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Palliative radiotherapy for bone metastases in elderly patients improves quality of life
Date:4/22/2013

Geneva, Switzerland: Giving palliative radiotherapy to elderly patients with painful bone metastases can significantly improve their quality of life, a Dutch researcher told the 2nd Forum of the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) today (Monday).

With the number of elderly patients who suffer from metastatic disease on the increase due to the ageing of the population and the ability to prolong the palliative phase of cancers, this finding has important implications for clinical practice, said Dr Paulien Westhoff from the Department of Radiotherapy at the University Medical Centre Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Together with Dr Yvette van der Linden and colleagues, Dr Westhoff extrapolated the new results from the Dutch Bone Metastases Study, the world's largest randomised trial looking at the effectiveness of different radiotherapy fractionation schedules on the treatment of pain arising from bone metastases. The researchers studied a subset of 227 elderly patients aged 75 and over and compared them with younger patients. Although at entry into the trial these patients had more physical impairment of activity than younger patients, they did not rate their overall quality of life as inferior, and they showed a positive response to a single fraction of radiotherapy.

"The patients filled out extensive questionnaires on pain and quality of life at regular intervals," said Dr Westhoff. "Although we knew already that a single fraction of 8 Gy was effective in treating bone pain across the board, we were unsure as to its precise effect in the elderly, and we were pleased to be able to show that this treatment is effective in all age groups. Even though the elderly group responded slightly less well than the others to the treatment, their response was sufficient to justify the use of palliative radiotherapy in these patients."

Reasons why the elderly group responded less well to the treatment may be related to their
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Contact: Mary Rice
mary.rice@riceconseil.eu
European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO)
Source:Eurekalert

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