Cancer care has seen progress in many areas, yet for many people effective treatment options are still not available. This is particularly true for aggressive or rare forms of cancer. One emerging type of treatment that has shown promise is radioligand therapy. It can improve survival and quality of life for many people with neuroendocrine cancers and castration-resistant prostate cancer that has spread to the bone.
A radioligand is made of two parts: a ligand, which can find cancer cells that have a particular surface molecule, and a radioisotope, which emits therapeutic radiation to kill cancer cells. The radioligand can target cells anywhere in the body.
Radioligands are highly versatile. They can be customised for diagnostic (imaging) or therapeutic (treatment) purposes by changing the type of radioisotope. Changing the ligand can allow targeting of different types of cancer or even other diseases.
Current cancer care often fails to meet the needs of people with rare cancers, or cancers that are resistant to treatments or have spread to other parts of the body. Radioligand therapy may help to address this gap and provide life-enhancing treatment for people with limited treatment options. It can play an important role in personalised, targeted healthcare.
The uptake of radioligand therapy across Europe is highly variable and integrating it into clinical practice will require new models of care and multidisciplinary coordination.