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Metastatic Bone Disease Patients Can Walk in Lazarus' Footsteps
Date:3/9/2009

Of 81 patients (59 women, 12 men), 64 (79 percent) were able to stop taking narcotic drugs for their pain, and 43 (53 percent) could stop taking other pain medication. In this study, pelvic, femur, sacrum, ribs, homerus, scapula, tibia, pubis and knee bones were treated.

In one case, Anselmetti recounted, a 79-year-old Roman Catholic nun had severe pain and was bedridden because of cancerous osteolytic lesions (thyroid cancer metastases) located deep in her pelvis -- previously treated unsuccessfully with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She underwent osteoplasty and experienced significant relief of pain and was able to walk two hours after the procedure. "This is the Lazarus effect," said Anselmetti, referring to the term often used to connote an apparent restoration to life, with Lazarus being the subject of the miracle recounted in the New Testament in which Jesus raises him from the dead. The nun, like other patients, was able to be discharged from the hospital on the same day.

"I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to provide relief to patients who are dying from their cancers. In most cases we can provide pain relief, restore function for them to do daily activities and help them to stay ambulatory," said Anselmetti. He noted that osteoplasty provided effective pain regression for individuals with both painful bone metastases and benign lytic lesions that didn't respond to conventional analgesic treatment.

Bones are the third most common location where cancer cells spread and metastasize. Bone metastases occur when cancer cells gain access to the blood stream, reach the bone marrow, begin to multiply and then grow new blood vessels to obtain oxygen and food -- which in turn causes the cancer cells to grow more and spread. For the most part, the goal of treating bone tumors is not curative, but rather palliative by reducing pain, preventing additional bone destruction and improving function.


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SOURCE Society of Interventional Radiology
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