Interventional radiology treatment offers quick, long-lasting relief for bone cancer patients

A minimally invasive interventional radiology procedure offers quick and long-lasting pain relief for patients with metastatic bone cancer, according to a new study.

The treatment—radiofrequency ablation—creates heat that destroys tumor cells and kills nerve fibers, and is meant to be used during palliative situations. Researchers found RFA provided patients relief in as little as three days, while the benefits last more than 12 months, according to a study to be presented during the Society of Interventional Radiology annual meeting taking place online March 20-26.

Head researcher Jason R. Levy, MD, a vascular and interventional radiologist at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, said the approach was significantly more effective than traditional techniques.

"Commonly used radiation treatments can take weeks to provide pain relief," Levy added in a statement. "A few weeks can represent a large portion of the remaining life in these patients, and RFA may be able to give them the best quality of life possible in the time they have left."

To achieve their results, the team enrolled 218 cancer patients across 15 sites around the globe between October 2017 and February 2020. Participants filled out questionnaires to gauge their quality of life and pain levels before the procedure, three days after, and at various points throughout the year-long follow-up.

Levy and colleagues reported significant improvements in 59 patients who completed the five-level EurolQol scale survey one year after treatment. Similar gains were recorded in 14 participants who completed the 12-month European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life or EORTC survey.

A number of the patients were unable to complete the entire one-year follow-up, the authors noted.

"What set our results apart from prior research is the sheer speed and durability of this treatment," Levy noted. "As a result, we believe this treatment should be available to more patients with metastatic cancer earlier in their treatment path."

Medtronic provided funding for this study.

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