A Consensus Development Approach to Define National Research Priorities in Bone Metastases: Proceedings from NCIC CTG Workshop
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AIMS: A 1-day workshop was conducted to gather interested Canadian radiation oncologists to identify priority research questions that could be answered through clinical trials under the auspices of the National Cancer Institute of Canada--Clinical Trials Group (NCIC-CTG) Symptom Control committee. MATERIALS AND METHODS: In preparation for the workshop, a survey of Canadian radiation oncologists resulted in four research areas in symptom control, including radiation-induced mucosal reactions, fatigue, radiotherapy for brain metastases and radiotherapy for bone metastases. The first half of the workshop consisted of plenary sessions where the research setting and perspective was defined for each area. This was followed by deliberations by a subgroup of researchers with special interest in the topic area. The bone-metastases subgroup deliberated the clinical context, the scientific merits and the required methodology of research questions related to the role of radiotherapy in early treatment of bone metastases, the role of re-irradiation, the role of systemic radiotherapy and patient selection for different fractionation schedules. A list of prioritised clinical studies was proposed. RESULTS: The question of single vs multi-fraction re-irradiation for symptomatic bone metastases was identified as most pertinent to the Canadian radiation oncologists present. A multi-centre, international intergroup study is undergoing protocol development. Other study concepts, such as an alternative dose-schedule of 17 Gy/2 fractions/1 week for intermediate-prognosis patients, and early referral for radiation oncologist assessment of early or mildly symptomatic bone metastases for good-prognosis patients, require further methodological development before a clinical trial can be proposed. CONCLUSION: An NCIC-CTG workshop provided an update on current evidence-based knowledge in palliative radiotherapy for bone metastases. New trial concepts were discussed among practitioners and clinical investigators to promote dialogue and collaboration. The proposal of an international intergroup randomised trial of single vs multiple fraction re-irradiation for painful bone metastases received the most support among participants.
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