Radiation Technique Appears Effective for Controlling Spine Cancer Pain

Many different types of cancer spread or metastasize to the bone, and the spine is the most frequent area of bone involved.  Spine pain from metastasized cancer can be extreme and challenging for pain specialists to treat. In fact, after receiving conventional radiation therapy, few options exist for patients. Fortunately, a new radiation therapy technique, stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), appears to control pain from cancer that has spread to the spine.

In contrast to traditional radiation therapy, SRS delivers a large dose of radiation precisely to a targeted area.  Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine studied more than two hundred patients with cancer metastasis to the spine, some of which had received radiation therapy in the past.  One group of patients received a single treatment of SRS, while the other group received three treatments. The patients that received a single treatment experienced pain relief faster, and the group that received three treatments had longer lasting pain relief. More studies are needed on larger groups of participants, but SRS appears to be a safe and effective treatment for cancer-related spine pain, even for those who received conventional radiation therapy in the past.

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