Purpose: To present guidance for patients and physicians regarding the use of radiotherapy in the treatment of bone metastases according to current published evidence and complemented by expert opinion.
Methods and materials: A systematic search of the National Library of Medicine's PubMed database between 1998 and 2009 yielded 4,287 candidate original research articles potentially applicable to radiotherapy for bone metastases. A Task Force composed of all authors synthesized the published evidence and reached a consensus regarding the recommendations contained herein.
Results: The Task Force concluded that external beam radiotherapy continues to be the mainstay for the treatment of pain and/or prevention of the morbidity caused by bone metastases. Various fractionation schedules can provide significant palliation of symptoms and/or prevent the morbidity of bone metastases. The evidence for the safety and efficacy of repeat treatment to previously irradiated areas of peripheral bone metastases for pain was derived from both prospective studies and retrospective data, and it can be safe and effective. The use of stereotactic body radiotherapy holds theoretical promise in the treatment of new or recurrent spine lesions, although the Task Force recommended that its use be limited to highly selected patients and preferably within a prospective trial. Surgical decompression and postoperative radiotherapy is recommended for spinal cord compression or spinal instability in highly selected patients with sufficient performance status and life expectancy. The use of bisphosphonates, radionuclides, vertebroplasty, and kyphoplasty for the treatment or prevention of cancer-related symptoms does not obviate the need for external beam radiotherapy in appropriate patients.
Conclusions: Radiotherapy is a successful and time efficient method by which to palliate pain and/or prevent the morbidity of bone metastases. This Guideline reviews the available data to define its proper use and provide consensus views concerning contemporary controversies or unanswered questions that warrant prospective trial evaluation.
Copyright © 2011 American Society for Radiation Oncology and American College of Radiology. All rights reserved.