Bone metastases develop in up to 70% of newly diagnosed cancer patients and result in immobility, anxiety, and depression, severely diminishing the patients quality of life. Radiotherapy is a frequently used modality for bone metastasis and has been shown to be effective in reducing metastatic bone pain and in some instances, causing tumor shrinkage or growth inhibition. There is controversy surrounding the optimal fractionation schedule and total dose of external beam radiotherapy, despite many randomized trials and overviews addressing the issue. This study was undertaken to apply BED to clinical fractionation data of radiotherapeutic management of bone metastases in order to arrive at optimum BED values for acceptable level of response rate.
A computerised literature search was conducted to identify all prospective clinical studies that addressed the issue of fractionation for the treatment of bone metastasis. The results of these studies were pooled together to form the database for the analysis. A total of 4111 number of patients received radiation dose ranging from 4 to 40.5 Gy in 1 to 15 fractions with dose per fraction ranging from 2 to 10 Gy. Single fraction treatments were delivered in 2013 patients and the dose varied from 4 to 10 Gy. Multifraction treatments were delivered in 2098 patients and the dose varied from 15 to 40.5 Gy. The biological effective dose (BED) was evaluated for each fractionation schedule using the linear quadratic model and an α/β value of 10 Gy. Response rate increased significantly beyond a BED value of 14.4 Gy (p < 0.01). Based on our analysis and indications from the literature about higher retreatment and fracture rate of single fraction treatments, minimum BED value of 14.4 Gy is recommended.
Bone pain trial working party. 8 Gy single fraction radiotherapy for the treatment of metastatic skeletal pain: randomized comparison with a multifraction schedule over 12 months of patient follow up. Radiother Oncol. 1999; 52: 111-121.
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