ROCHESTER, MINN. -- A Mayo Clinic study indicates the radioactive drug samarium may expand treatment options for osteosarcoma, offering patients with bone cancer further hope of a treatment that specifically targets and kills tumors in the bone.
In the study, 24 of the 30 patients enrolled experienced a good to excellent response to the samarium treatment. Two of the patients have been in complete remission for more than two years. (See attached profiles on patients Francisco Villagran of Dallas, Texas, and Casey Quinn of Minneapolis, Minn.)
The Mayo Clinic study is the first known American research study to be completed on the use of samarium for treatment of osteosarcoma. The findings are published in the current edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Samarium is an interesting radioactive drug thats similar to isotopes that have been used for years by radiology physicians to perform bone scans for detecting bone cancer and for determining the spread of cancer from a primary site, such as a breast, to the bone, says Peter Anderson, M.D., a Mayo Clinic pediatric oncologist and lead researcher on the study. Now our study confirms research done in Norway and Germany that for some patients, samarium also is an effective treatment for osteosarcoma.
The beauty of samarium is that it targets the tumors in the bone and kills off the cancer cells, says Dr. Anderson. Because it is bone-specific, samarium does not have many of the side effects often associated with chemotherapy -- nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
We see samarium as advancement in treatment of osteosarcoma because patients with this cancer still have a poor prognosis if the cancer cannot be adequately controlled through surgery and chemotherapy.