Treatment with Phosphorus-32 (P-32) – Information about your treatment

Patient Leaflets Team

  • Reference Number: HEY-294/2017
  • Departments: Nuclear Medicine


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your treatment.  Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your doctor, but may act as a starting point for discussion.  If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team caring for you.

What is Phosphorus 32 (P-32)?

Phosphorus-32 (also known as P-32) treatment uses a radioactive form of sodium phosphate. Because P-32 is radioactive, it can be used to treat some diseases by injecting it into the body.

When P-32 is injected into the bloodstream it collects in the bone marrow where it slows down the production of new blood cells.  This makes it useful for treating diseases where there are too many blood cells in the blood.

Can there be any complications or risks?

Patients treated with P-32 have a slightly higher risk of leukaemia than untreated patients, however this risk is a long term complication and not expected to be relevant compared to the benefit of the treatment. Your consultant has decided that P-32 will be the best treatment for you.

P-32 therapy slows down the rate at which your bone marrow produces new blood cells.  There is a small risk that you may end up with too few cells being produced for a period of time as a result of being given P-32.  Your doctor may wish to test your blood to check for this after you have had the treatment.  If needed, a low blood count can be treated in a number of ways, including giving you a transfusion of blood to top up the number of blood cells you already have.

This treatment must NOT be given to pregnant women or mothers who are breast-feeding.  If you have been prescribed this treatment it is essential that you inform your doctor if you are breastfeeding or if there is any chance that you may be pregnant.

How do I prepare for the treatment?

Please read this information leaflet.  Share the information it contains with your partner and family (if you wish) so that they can be of help and support.  There may be information they need to know, especially if they are taking care of you following this treatment.

There is some information which we need in advance.  This is so that we can plan your treatment and make sure that you are as comfortable as possible during your visit:

  1. If you have any problems with controlling your bladder. For example, if you wear pads or have a catheter.  Since some of the radioactive material will leave your body in your urine, we need to know of any problems as soon as possible so we can give you the right advice.
  2. If you need the use of a wheelchair or a stretcher. If we know this in advance we can try to make you as comfortable as possible during your visit.
  3. If your home has a septic tank and when it is due for emptying or maintenance. This is because some of the radioactive material will end up in the tank and we need to make sure it is safe for anybody working on the tank.

There is no other preparation needed.  You may eat and drink as normal before, during and after the treatment.  If you normally take pain relief medication or other medicines then please bring these with you. You are welcome to bring someone with you when you come for your treatment, but it is very important that you do not bring anyone under the age of 18 or anyone who is, or may be pregnant.

What will happen on the day of the treatment?

The treatment will be given in the Nuclear Medicine Department at Castle Hill Hospital. There is a map enclosed with this leaflet.

Before we can give you the P-32, a member of staff (normally a Medical Physicist) will discuss the procedure with you.  They will normally ask questions about you, your lifestyle and your family.  This is to make sure that it will be safe for you to have the treatment and that we can give you the right advice about radiation protection after your treatment.  The member of staff will also explain the protection advice and can answer any questions you or your family may have about the treatment.

Once both you and the member of staff are happy that this treatment is right for you, a cannula (a small tube) will be put into a vein, usually in your arm.  This normally only takes a few minutes and is similar to having a blood test.  Please let us know if you have problems with needles or are nervous about this as there may be things we can do to make this easier for you.

Once the cannula is in place, it will be tested to make sure it works properly and then the P-32 is given through the cannula.  This should normally only take a few minutes and you should not feel anything as it happens.

What happens afterwards?

Three weeks after your treatment you need to have a blood test done at your GP surgery.  You should see your referring hospital consultant in 4-6 weeks time.  If you have not already received an appointment please call the consultant’s secretary.

You will be given a treatment record card after the P-32. This will contain details of what treatment you have had and the radiation precautions you need to follow.  You will need to carry this card with you for a few weeks after your treatment.  We will tell you for how long you must carry the card when you attend.  If you have any medical/dental appointments or are admitted to hospital during this time, please show the card to the healthcare professional dealing with you.

It is important that you let the people close to you know that you have had this treatment so that they can tell the people who care for you.  If you die in the months immediately after treatment, there may need to be a delay before your body can be cremated or undergo a post-mortem examination.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Nuclear Medicine Department on telephone number : (01482) 622125

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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