Atrium Health’s Levine Cancer Institute Offers New Therapy for Patients with Late-Stage Prostate Cancer

07.15.2022 Atrium Health News | Levine Cancer Institute

Recent FDA approval of medication offers new hope of longer life

CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 15, 2022 Atrium Health’s Levine Cancer Institute now offers a new, targeted radiopharmaceutical called Pluvicto to treat late-stage prostate cancer. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved Pluvicto for patients with prostate cancer who completed hormone therapy and chemotherapy, but whose cancer continues to progress. While not a cure for prostate cancer, this medication has been shown to improve the quality and length of life of many trial participants. 

“We’re talking about patients who, on average, had one to two years of life left,” said Dr. Derek McHaffie, a radiation oncologist and the director of brachytherapy services at Atrium Health’s Levine Cancer Institute. “With this treatment, we saw a delayed disease progression, which extended the average expected survival by about four months. It is an impressive result for a treatment that’s been tested after other therapies have been exhausted. We think the majority of patients who are candidates for this treatment will benefit.”

Pluvicto is administered intravenously and works by binding to cancer cell receptors to slow tumor growth. The treatment involves a quick infusion every six weeks. If there is evidence of benefit to the patient, the treatment can continue for up to six doses. Like all cancer treatments, this therapy carries the risk of side effects, including dry mouth, nausea, loss of appetite and low red blood cell counts. All patients are closely monitored through regular lab work. Treatment can be adjusted as needed.

Several years ago, Levine Cancer Institute began offering another targeted radiopharmaceutical, called Lutathera, to treat neuroendocrine tumors. The results from this treatment are what encouraged the further testing and development of other radiopharmaceuticals.

“Our experience with Lutathera was proof that this type of treatment could work, and it created a lot of promise for the future of radiopharmaceuticals,” said McHaffie.

Delivering and overseeing radiopharmaceuticals like Pluvicto and Lutathera requires a complex, team approach and dedicated infrastructure. This means that even though the medications are FDA approved, they are not available at all cancer centers.

“Delivering radiopharmaceutical therapies to patients requires the right facilities to ensure a safe, non-contaminated delivery,” said McHaffie. “At Levine Cancer Institute, we have the physical foundation, along with the expertise and talent of our multidisciplinary team, to offer this drug today and into the future.”

Currently, Pluvicto is administered to patients inside the radiation oncology suite at Levine Cancer Institute, but there will be a dedicated space located within the new radiation therapy facility set to open in 2023.

Levine Cancer Institute offers many treatment options for patients with prostate cancer including active surveillance, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy and robotic prostatectomy. More information about these treatments, as well as clinical trials and survivorship programs designed to help patients stay well during and after treatment, is available at

About Atrium Health
Atrium Health is a nationally recognized leader in shaping health outcomes through innovative research, education and compassionate patient care. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Atrium Health is an integrated, nonprofit health system with more than 70,000 teammates serving patients at 40 hospitals and more than 1,400 care locations. It provides care under the Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist name in the Winston-Salem, North Carolina, region, as well as Atrium Health Navicent and Atrium Health Floyd in Georgia and Alabama. Atrium Health is renowned for its top-ranked pediatric, cancer and heart care, as well as organ transplants, burn treatments and specialized musculoskeletal programs. A recognized leader in experiential medical education and groundbreaking research, Wake Forest University School of Medicine is the academic core of the enterprise, including Wake Forest Innovations, which is advancing new medical technologies and biomedical discoveries. Atrium Health is also a leading-edge innovator in virtual care and mobile medicine, providing care close to home and in the home. Ranked nationally among U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals in eight pediatric specialties and for rehabilitation, Atrium Health has also received the American Hospital Association’s Quest for Quality Prize and its 2021 Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care Award, as well as the 2020 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Health Equity Award for its efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in care. With a commitment to every community it serves, Atrium Health seeks to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing – for all, providing $2.46 billion last year in free and uncompensated care and other community benefits.