Reirradiation on spine metastases: an Italian survey on behalf of palliative care and reirradiation study groups of Italian association of radiotherapy and clinical oncology (AIRO)

Clin Transl Oncol. 2023 Feb;25(2):408-416. doi: 10.1007/s12094-022-02951-3. Epub 2022 Sep 26.


Aim: This survey derived from the collaboration between the Palliative Care and Reirradiation Study Groups of the Italian Association of Radiotherapy and Clinical Oncology (AIRO). Its aim was to obtain a real "snapshot" on the treatments of spinal metastases, focusing on reirradiation, among radiation oncologists in Italy.

Methods: The survey was elaborated on SurveyMonkey's online interface and was sent via e-mail to all Radiation Oncologists of AIRO that were invited to anonymously fill in the electronic form within 60 days. The questionnaire was prepared by the AIRO "Palliative care" and "Reirradiation" Study Groups and it consisted of 36 questions, 19 single-choice questions, 10 multiple-choice questions and 6 open questions. The data were analyzed and represented with tables and graphs.

Results: The survey shows that palliative radiotherapy remains a field of interest for most ROs in the Italian centers. 3D Conventional Radiation Therapy (3DCRT) alone or in combination with other techniques is the primary choice for patients with a life expectancy of less than 6 months. For patients with a life expectancy of more than six months, there is an increased use of new technologies, such as Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT). Factors considered for retreatment are time between first and second treatment, dose delivered to spine metastasis and spinal cord in the first treatment, vertebral stability, symptoms, and/or performance status. The most feared complication are myelopathy followed by vertebral fracture and local recurrence. This explain an increasing focus on patient selection and the use of high technology in the treatment of metastatic patients.

Conclusion: Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) and image-guided radiotherapy allow the administration of ablative RT doses while sparing the constraints of healthy tissue in spinal metastases. However, there is still an unclear and heterogeneous reality in the reirradiation of spinal metastases. A national registry with the aim of clarifying the most controversial aspects of vertebral metastasis retreatments will enable better management of these patients and design more targeted study designs.

Keywords: Pain; Radiotherapy; Reirradiation; SBRT; Spinal cord.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Medical Oncology
  • Radiosurgery* / methods
  • Re-Irradiation*
  • Spinal Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Spinal Neoplasms* / secondary
  • Surveys and Questionnaires