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BACKGROUND: One third of all cancer patients will develop bone metastases and the vertebral column is involved in approximately 70% of these patients. Conventional radiotherapy with of 1-10 fractions and total doses of 8-30 Gy is the current standard for painful vertebral metastases; however, the median pain response is short with 3-6 months and local tumor control is limited with these rather low irradiation doses. Recent advances in radiotherapy technology - intensity modulated radiotherapy for generation of highly conformal dose distributions and image-guidance for precise treatment delivery - have made dose-escalated radiosurgery of spinal metastases possible and early results of pain and local tumor control are promising. The current study will investigate efficacy and safety of radiosurgery for painful vertebral metastases and three characteristics will distinguish this study. 1) A prognostic score for overall survival will be used for selection of patients with longer life expectancy to allow for analysis of long-term efficacy and safety. 2) Fractionated radiosurgery will be performed with the number of treatment fractions adjusted to either good (10 fractions) or intermediate (5 fractions) life expectancy. Fractionation will allow inclusion of tumors immediately abutting the spinal cord due to higher biological effective doses at the tumor - spinal cord interface compared to single fraction treatment. 3) Dose intensification will be performed in the involved parts of the vertebrae only, while uninvolved parts are treated with conventional doses using the simultaneous integrated boost concept. METHODS / DESIGN: It is the study hypothesis that hypo-fractionated image-guided radiosurgery significantly improves pain relief compared to historic data of conventionally fractionated radiotherapy. Primary endpoint is pain response 3 months after radiosurgery, which is defined as pain reduction of ≥ 2 points at the treated vertebral site on the 0 to 10 Visual Analogue Scale. 60 patients will be included into this two-centre phase II trial. CONCLUSIONS: Results of this study will refine the methods of patient selection, target volume definition, treatment planning and delivery as well as quality assurance for radiosurgery. It is the intention of this study to form the basis for a future randomized controlled trial comparing conventional radiotherapy with fractionated radiosurgery for palliation of painful vertebral metastases. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01594892.

Original publication

DOI

10.1186/1471-2407-12-530

Type

Journal article

Journal

BMC Cancer

Publication Date

19/11/2012

Volume

12

Keywords

Aged, Dose Fractionation, Radiation, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Pain, Pain Measurement, Prognosis, Prospective Studies, Radiosurgery, Radiotherapy Dosage, Spinal Neoplasms, Time