Radiotherapy Is Effective For Painful Vertebral Bone Metastases

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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A single high dose of radiotherapy is as effective in relieving the pain from vertebral bone metastases as 10 smaller treatments, according to new research from the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) that will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Orlando. RTOG, an NCI-funded national clinical trials group, is a clinical research component of the American College of Radiology.

RTOG researchers previously reported that breast and prostate cancer patients with painful bone metastases who received a single radiotherapy treatment of 8 Gy had the same pain relief and narcotic use three months after treatment as patients who received 10 radiotherapy treatments each consisting of 2 Gy for a total of 30 Gy.

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They also found that patients who received the 8 Gy regimen reported fewer side effects, although those patients did have to be retreated more often than patients who received the higher dose.

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of short course radiotherapy in patients with painful vertebral bone metastases, the RTOG investigators examined a 235-patient subset of the 909 patients entered on the original study, RTOG 9714. The RTOG researchers found the short course to be equally effective as the longer course (8 Gy vs. 30 Gy) showing no statistically significant difference in pain relief (70 percent vs. 62 percent) or narcotic use (27 percent vs. 24 percent) at three months.

“It is exciting to confirm that we can provide the same amount of pain relief for patients suffering with vertebral bone metastases with only one visit to their radiation oncologist as we have been providing with 10 visits,” relates David D. Howell, M.D., the lead author of the analysis from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. “With fewer side-effects and comparable pain relief, the single-dose treatment is very much appreciated, especially for patients who have already completed one or more courses of treatment for their primary disease.”

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