At the plenary session of ASTRO, the international annual Radiology Oncology Scientific Conference, in San Francisco, results from an Irish research project were hailed as significant. In short, the researchers found that a single large radiotherapy dose produced the same results as a longer course of treatment, were “immediately translatable” and “effectively changing overnight how cancer treatment is delivered in relation to spinal cord compression.”
The results of this study are highly significant: cancer treatment will be less expensive—potentially reducing visits to the radiation machine by 80%—and more importantly easier on already weak patients. When advanced cancer spreads to the backbone, the standard of care is decompression surgery, if the patient isn’t too frail, plus 5-days of radiotherapy. This 9-year study “showed equivalent ability to alleviate the condition, preserving the patient’s ability to walk, postponing the onset of paralysis, and generally alleviating pain, suffering and incontinence.”
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