Systemic Radiation Therapy

What is systemic radiation?

Systemic radiation uses liquid radioactive drugs called radiopharmaceuticals to treat certain types of cancer. Although drugs travel throughout your entire body, radiopharmaceuticals are frequently labeled with an antibody (radioimmunotherapy) or protein (peptide receptor radionuclide therapy) that targets your specific tumor. Because these drugs accumulate near tumors, the effects of radiation on the rest of the body are minimized.

How is systemic radiation given?

In systemic radiation therapy, liquid radioactive drugs (radioisotopes) are administered by mouth or injection into a vein or artery. The radioactive material then leaves the body through urine, saliva and sweat. Your provider will provide you instructions on precautions you should take after radiopharmaceutical therapy to limit radiation exposure to those around you.

Who should consider systemic radiation?

Systemic radiation is an effective treatment for cancers of the bone, prostate and thyroid, among others.