Radioisotope treatment for secondary bone cancer

Radioisotope treatment can also be given if certain types of cancer have spread to the bones (secondary cancer in the bone). A radioisotope is injected into a vein and is taken up into the bone so that the radioactivity works against the cancer cells. The aim of this treatment is to reduce pain and slow the growth of cancer in the bone. This is usually given as an outpatient. (Note that secondary bone cancer is often treated with a short course of external radiation see 'External radiation')

Before you go home you will be given some simple advice to follow, as your urine and blood will be slightly radioactive for a few days. You might feel tired for a few weeks. You will have regular blood tests as you might become anaemic.

Talking with doctors

Before you see the doctor, it might help to write down your questions. There is a list of questions to ask your doctor at the end of this booklet which might help you.

Taking notes during the session can also help. You might find it helpful to have a family member or friend with you to take part in the discussion, take notes, or simply listen. Some people find it is helpful to record the discussion.

“So you need to go with a list. Write down what you want to know because by the time you get there you forget.” Melinda

Talking with others

Once you have discussed treatment options with your doctor, you might want to talk them over with someone else. Talking it over can help to sort out what course of action is right for you.

Making decisions about treatment

While some people feel overwhelmed with information, others might feel that they do not have enough. Understanding your illness, the possible treatment and side effects will help you to make decisions.

Your treatment has been designed for your situation – the outcomes and side effects associated with your treatment will differ from those experienced by other people. Discuss your situation with a member of your radiation treatment team to gain the best advice.

Sometimes, it is difficult to make decisions about what is the right treatment for you. You might feel everything is happening so fast that you do not have time to think things through. It is important not to be rushed into a decision – it must be the right one for you.

“At first I wondered if ignorance was bliss, but after a week I thought ‘No’. It’s my body and I want to know what was going to happen, and I want to know if I make a decision what will happen.” Silei

A second opinion

You might want to ask for a second opinion from another specialist. Your specialist or general practitioner can refer you. You can ask for your records to be sent to the second doctor.

Taking part in a clinical trial

Research into the causes of cancer and ways to prevent, detect and treat it is continuing. Your doctor might suggest you consider taking part in a clinical trial. You could also ask if there is a clinical trial for your particular cancer.

Clinical trials are a vital part of the search to find better treatments for cancer and are conducted to test new or modified treatments and to see if they are better than existing treatments. Many people all over the world have taken part in trials that have resulted in improvements to cancer treatment. If you are asked to take part in a trial, make sure you fully understand the reasons for the trial and what it means for your treatment.

Before deciding whether or not to join the trial, you might

wish to ask your doctor:

  • Which treatments are being tested and why?
  • What tests are involved?
  • What are the possible risks or side effects?
  • How long will the trial last?
  • Will I need to go into hospital for treatment?
  • What will I do if any problems occur while I am in the trial?
  • If the treatment I receive on the trial is successful for my cancer, is there a possibility of carrying on with the treatment after the trial?

If you decide to join a clinical trial, you will be given either the best existing treatment or a promising new treatment. You will be chosen at random to receive one treatment or the other, but either treatment will be appropriate for your condition.

In trials, people’s health and progress are carefully monitored. If you join a trial you have the right to withdraw at any time. Doing so will not jeopardise your treatment.