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Radioactive strontium therapy

Nurse and patients talking about cancer

This page tells you about radioactive strontium treatment for cancers that have spread to the bones. There is information about


What radioactive strontium is

Radioactive strontium is a radioactive form of the metal strontium. It is sometimes used to treat cancers that have spread to the bones, most commonly prostate cancer. If there are cancer cells in more than one area of bone, radioactive strontium can work well to treat those areas and reduce pain.


How you have treatment

You have radioactive strontium as an injection into the vein, which may need to be repeated every 3 to 6 months. You have the treatment as an outpatient and will be able to go home afterwards. The radioactive strontium is taken up by the cancer cells in the bone and gives a high dose of radiotherapy to these areas.


Possible side effects

There are no immediate side effects from the injection. You will have some radioactivity in your body for a while after this treatment. But the total amount is extremely small and gets lower each day. Your radiotherapy doctor (clinical oncologist) or specialist nurse will let you know if there are any safety guidelines you need to follow after your treatment and how long you need to follow them for. This will depend on the dose of strontium you have had.

The treatment can sometimes cause anaemia after a few weeks. So you will need to have regular blood tests after the treatment.


More information about radioactive strontium

Your medical physicist or radiotherapy doctor will be able to explain the treatment to you in detail if you would like them to.

You can find out about written information about radioactive strontium in our thyroid cancer reading list. There are details of organisations who can help on the thyroid cancer organisations page.

If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use Cancer Chat, our online forum.

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Updated: 3 July 2012