New research presented at this year's meeting of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology shows a single treatment of external beam radiation may be what it takes to relieve pain from breast and prostate cancers that have spread to the bone.
More than 160 hospitals and universities in the United States and Canada were involved in a study of about 900 men and women with breast or prostate cancer. Patients also had bone metastasis -- meaning the cancer had spread to the bones. All patients had moderate to severe pain. They were divided between women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer.
Results show a single dose of radiation therapy was effective in significantly reducing pain in two-thirds of the patients. A single larger dose of the therapy was just as effective as the longer treatment that consisted of 10 treatments in two weeks.
William F. Hartsell, M.D., from Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., and lead author of the study, says, "There were very few side effects from the treatments. We also found that 33 percent of the patients no longer needed narcotic medications."