The following Nov. 24th article from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes recent clinical trial findings that for some patients with painful spinal metastases from advanced cancer, a type of precise, high-dose radiation therapy (SBRT) may be a highly effective way to relieve that pain. About a third of people in the clinical trial who received this form of radiation therapy, called stereotactic body radiation therapy, or SBRT, for spinal metastases were pain-free up to 6 months after treatment compared with only about 15% of people who received conventional external beam radiation therapy to treat the pain.
This study included about 200 people with three or fewer spinal metastases in a concentrated area of the spine that were the sole source of their pain. None had measurable signs of instability in the bones of the spine, which would increase the risk of fracture and make it harder to assess pain.
The study’s principal investigator noted that “this isn’t for the patient who has pain everywhere in the spine, which is unfortunately the majority of patients. But if you have a defined region of metastatic disease in the spine, and you can pinpoint the pain to that region, that’s going to be who benefits.” See the entire article for details.