MAY 30, 2019 9:07 AM PDT

Single Radiation Dose Now Shown to Treat Bone Cancer Pain

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

Palliative radiation is often used to treat the pain that accompanies metastatic bone tumors. How much and how often to use this treatment has been debated and studied, and using multiple lower doses is generally the current standard. A new clinical trial employing contemporary radiation technologies including three-dimensional radiation therapy and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) found that a single high dose of radiation was just as effective for pain reduction as multiple smaller doses, and actually provided more patients with long-term pain relief.

“This is one of the most exciting studies about the value of radiotherapy treatments for bone pain to come out in the past several years,” radiation oncologist Stephen Lutz, M.D., of Eastern Woods Radiation Oncology in Ohio, who was not involved in the research, said.

Bone cancer image, credit: U.S. National Library of Medicine

A total of 160 patients who had painful bone metastases (the majority did not involve the spine) at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center participated in the trial, which compared one higher dose of radiation to multiple lower doses over a two-week period. The researchers analyzed pain questionnaires and found the single delivery of radiation therapy was not inferior to the multiple doses in regard to pain control or recurrence at the site. In fact, a greater number of the patients who received a single-dose reported all or some of the pain had been alleviated at various time intervals up to nine months, compared with those patients in the multiple-dose group. What’s more, after one and two years went by, the tumor recurrence rate at the treated cancer sites was lower in the group that received a single treatment.

Previous studies suggested that a single treatment might work, but that its effectiveness might wear off more quickly. Lutz attributes the new findings to advances in radiation; “The results of this study suggest that the effectiveness of radiation therapy can be greatly improved by using new technologies.” He added, “The current results are based on a small number of patients and will need to be confirmed in a larger group treated at multiple different cancer centers.”

hand X-ray, credit: public domain

Lead author Quynh-Nhu Nguyen, M.D. said, “We should individualize our care for [patients],” based on their conditions and overall health. For a person with a life expectancy of less than a month, “it’s reasonable to give them a single low dose of radiation for pain,” she explained.

For people with a longer life expectancy, “it makes sense to give them a single higher dose of radiation to alleviate pain over the long term.

 

Sources: National Cancer Institute, JAMA Oncology

About the Author
  • Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 14, 2020
Cancer
The bus that's bringing lung cancer screening to your doorstep
JUL 14, 2020
The bus that's bringing lung cancer screening to your doorstep
Scientists say that there is potential for a mobile platform for lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography ...
JUL 15, 2020
Cancer
Mortality rate disparities in hospitals with different star ratings
JUL 15, 2020
Mortality rate disparities in hospitals with different star ratings
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services' "Star Rating" system compares the quality of care of hospit ...
JUL 24, 2020
Cancer
A New Biomarker Candidate for Cancer Diagnostics
JUL 24, 2020
A New Biomarker Candidate for Cancer Diagnostics
One of the best tools in the fight against cancer is diagnostics. In 2018, colorectal cancer was the second most lethal ...
JUL 28, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Cancer Diagnostics Go Skin Deep
JUL 28, 2020
Cancer Diagnostics Go Skin Deep
The average adult human has between 16 and 22 square feet of skin. This multifaceted organ serves a multitude of functio ...
AUG 03, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Gut Microbes & Diet Change the Behavior of a Cancer-Driving Protein
AUG 03, 2020
Gut Microbes & Diet Change the Behavior of a Cancer-Driving Protein
Clinicians and researchers have long wondered why cancer is the small intestine is rare while it's so common in the colo ...
AUG 26, 2020
Cancer
NAP-6: A Potential Candidate for the Treatment of Breast Cancer
AUG 26, 2020
NAP-6: A Potential Candidate for the Treatment of Breast Cancer
The body is an amazing and complex system of pathways, all working together in harmony. However, cancer can quickly disr ...
Loading Comments...