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Bone Cement Eases Pain of Late-Stage Cancers
Date:3/9/2009

Italian researchers report bedridden patients walked 24 hours after treatment

MONDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Injecting "bone cement" into lesions in patients whose cancer has spread to their bones can literally allow these individuals to rise from their deathbeds and live the remainder of their lives relatively pain-free.

Italian researchers presenting these findings Monday at the Society of Interventional Radiology annual meeting in San Diego called it the "Lazarus Effect," referring to when Jesus miraculously raised Lazarus from the dead.

"The majority of treated patients experienced significant or complete and long-lasting pain relief after osteoplasty with immediate improvement of clinical conditions and quality of life," said study author Dr. Giovanni Carlo Anselmetti, of the Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment in Turin.

Indeed, a 79-year-old nun who was confined to her bed because of thyroid cancer that had spread to her pelvis stood and walked just two hours after the minimally invasive procedure.

"It is palliative. It's not going to be a curative procedure, but we've seen dramatic improvements in pain control," said Dr. Mark Montgomery, an associate professor of radiology at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and director of interventional radiology and vice chair of education in radiology at Scott & White.

The procedure is more commonly used in the spine, said Dr. Susan Bukata, an orthopedic oncologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Orthopedists who do osteoplasty generally partner with an interventional radiologist who first performs radiofrequency ablation (extreme heat) or cryoablation (freezing) to kill nerve cells near the tumor.

Osteoplasty involves injecting bone cement (here they used polymethyl-methacrylate or PMMA) into a bone lesion with the help of image guidance.

"The procedure is analogous
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