Theranostics pairs diagnostic biomarkers (used to confirm the presence of a disease, or to identify a subtype of the disease) with therapeutic treatment to target metastatic disease from gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors and prostate cancer cells. It relies on radiotracers, which are comprised of radiation and chemicals, and cancer specific antigen receptors, that bind to a specific target on cancer cells to diagnose and then subsequently treat the cancer.
What to Expect
The first step of theranostics is to determine if you are a candidate for treatment. Your health care provider will conduct a diagnostic test by injecting a radiotracer and performing a PET/CT scan to determine the location of where the radiotracer has accumulated. The radiotracer emits a low level of radiation which gets detected by the PET/CT scanner. If your health care provider determines you are a good candidate for theranostics, you will proceed with the second step, which is the therapeutic phase.
In this therapeutic phase, you will receive IV infusions of a drug called Pluvicto that contains a different type of radioactive element than the radiotracer injected during the diagnostic testing. This radioactive element in Pluvicto destroys cancer cells by damaging their DNA through precise cell targeted radiation, sparing nearby tissue. The therapy is given as an outpatient procedure and you will receive six treatments, one treatment every six weeks.
We recommend that you do not share a bathroom for three days after treatment, and your family maintains a three-to-six-foot distance for three days after each treatment. Children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and older people should maintain a safe distance for about a week. After a few days the radiation is cleared by your body, eliminating the risk of radiation exposure.
Benefits of Theranostics
Theranostics provides your treating health care provider with a clear picture of your cancer’s nature, allowing them to precisely target cancer cells while reducing harm to nearby healthy cells. Treatments are also well tolerated, so the side effects are usually outweighed by the benefits of the drug. Many patients report an improved quality of life and improvement of symptoms caused by their cancer.
Side Effects of Theranostics
Some patients experience a decrease in blood cell production due to bone marrow absorbing radiation. Radiation exposure has also been linked to other types of cancer. Other possible side effects include:
- Appetite loss
- Temporary worsening of cancer symptoms
- Dry mouth