"Spinal cord compression experienced by many patients with cancer. Until now, people had to spend a lot of time to go through radiation therapy. Research shows that without prejudice to the treatment we can help patients to devote more time to hobbies, and not cancer, "- says Joshua Jones, MD.
In people with metastatic spinal cord compression degrades the quality of life. Radiation therapy is used to relieve pain and other symptoms, but there is no standard recommended schedule. The results of phase III clinical trials demonstrate that a single radiation therapy is as effective as the one-week course.
A study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2017.
"The results establish a single dose radiation therapy as the standard of care, at least for patients with a short expected lifespan, - said study author Peter Hoskin, an oncologist. - For patients this means fewer hospital visits. "
When cancer spreads to the bones, it most commonly affects the spine. Tumors in the spine are putting pressure on the spinal canal, causing back pain, numbness, tingling, and difficulty walking. Many patients with advanced cancer develop bone metastases, and 10 percent of all patients with cancer of the spinal cord is compressed.
The study included 688 patients with metastatic prostate (44 percent), lung cancer (18 percent), breast (11 percent) and cancer of the gastrointestinal tract (11 percent). The median age was 70 years, 73% - men. Researchers administered to patients a single dose of 8 Gy or 20 Gy in five doses within five days.
The patients were divided into four classes:
- Class 1: able to walk normally.
- Class 2: able to walk with the aid of auxiliary means.
- Class 3: has difficulty walking even using auxiliary means.
- Class 4: depending on the wheelchair.
When you receive 66% of the patients met the class 1-2.
After eight weeks, 69.5% of patients treated with a single radiation therapy, and 73.3% of those who received five doses, ambulatory status remained 1 to 2, which showed that radiation treatments with a short and a long course helped patients stay mobile. The proportion of patients with severe side effects was similar in both groups (20.6% vs. 20.4%), but mild side effects were less prevalent in the group with a single dose (51% vs. 56.9%).
Professor Hoskin noted that early detection and prompt treatment of spinal cord compression symptoms are crucial to achieve the best results with radiation therapy.