Continuous controversy about radiation oncologists' choice of treatment regimens for bone metastases: should we blame doctors, cancer-related features, or design of previous clinical studies?

Radiat Oncol. 2013 Apr 10:8:85. doi: 10.1186/1748-717X-8-85.


Recent studies from Italy, Japan and Norway have confirmed previous reports, which found that a large variety of palliative radiotherapy regimens are used for painful bone metastases. Routine use of single fraction treatment might or might not be the preferred institutional approach. It is not entirely clear why inter-physician and inter-institution differences continue to persist despite numerous randomized trials, meta-analyses and guidelines, which recommend against more costly and inconvenient multi-fraction regimens delivering total doses of 30 Gy or more in a large number of clinical scenarios. In the present mini-review we discuss the questions of whether doctors are ignoring evidence-based medicine or whether we need additional studies targeting specifically those patient populations where recent surveys identified inconsistent treatment recommendations, e.g. because of challenging disease extent. We identify open questions and provide research suggestions, which might contribute to making radiation oncology practitioners more confident in selecting the right treatment for the right patient.

MeSH terms

  • Bone Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care / methods
  • Palliative Care / standards
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards*
  • Radiation Oncology / standards*
  • Radiotherapy / methods*