Radiotherapy fractionation for the palliation of uncomplicated painful bone metastases – an evidence-based practice guideline
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BACKGROUND: This practice guideline was developed to provide recommendations to clinicians in Ontario on the preferred standard radiotherapy fractionation schedule for the treatment of painful bone metastases. METHODS: A systematic review and meta-analysis was performed and published elsewhere. The Supportive Care Guidelines Group, a multidisciplinary guideline development panel, formulated clinical recommendations based on their interpretation of the evidence. In addition to evidence from clinical trials, the panel also considered patient convenience and ease of administration of palliative radiotherapy. External review of the draft report by Ontario practitioners was obtained through a mailed survey, and final approval was obtained from the Practice Guidelines Coordinating Committee. RESULTS: Meta-analysis did not detect a significant difference in complete or overall pain relief between single treatment and multifraction palliative radiotherapy for bone metastases. Fifty-nine Ontario practitioners responded to the mailed survey (return rate 62%). Forty-two percent also returned written comments. Eighty-three percent of respondents agreed with the interpretation of the evidence and 75% agreed that the report should be approved as a practice guideline. Minor revisions were made based on feedback from the external reviewers and the Practice Guidelines Coordinating Committee. The Practice Guidelines Coordinating Committee approved the final practice guideline report. CONCLUSION: For adult patients with single or multiple radiographically confirmed bone metastases of any histology corresponding to painful areas in previously non-irradiated areas without pathologic fractures or spinal cord/cauda equine compression, we conclude that: Where the treatment objective is pain relief, a single 8 Gy treatment, prescribed to the appropriate target volume, is recommended as the standard dose-fractionation schedule for the treatment of symptomatic and uncomplicated bone metastases. Several factors frequently considered in clinical practice when applying this evidence such as the effect of primary histology, anatomical site of treatment, risk of pathological fracture, soft tissue disease and cord compression, use of antiemetics, and the role of retreatment are discussed as qualifying statements.Our systematic review and meta-analysis provided high quality evidence for the key recommendation in this clinical practice guideline. Qualifying statements addressing factors that should be considered when applying this recommendation in clinical practice facilitate its clinical application. The rigorous development and approval process result in a final document that is strongly endorsed by practitioners as a practice guideline.