Functional Interference due to Pain Following Palliative Radiotherapy for Bone Metastases Among Patients in Their Last Three Months of Life

Kristopher Dennis, Liying Zhang, Lori Holden, Florencia Jon, Elizabeth Barnes, May Tsao, Cyril Danjoux, Arjun Sahgal, Liang Zeng, Kaitlin Koo, Luluel Khan, Amanda Caissie, Edward Chow


Background: To compare the self-reported ratings of functional interference caused by pain between patients who did and did not respond to palliative radiotherapy for bone metastases during their last three months of life.

Methods: A prospectively gathered Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) database compiled from patients receiving palliative radiotherapy for painful bone metastases was reviewed. Demographic and clinical data, pain response rates and self-reported ratings of functional interference caused by pain were analyzed for those patients who died within three months of beginning radiotherapy.

Results: From 400 patients in the database, 83 died within 3 months of beginning radiotherapy. There were 54 male and 29 female patients. Their median age was 69 years and their median KPS was 70. The three most common primary cancers were lung (40%), gastrointestinal (16%) and breast (14%). For patients with available follow-up information the 1-month overall pain response rate was 78% and the 2-month rate was 83%, which include both complete and partial responses as defined by the International Bone Metastases Consensus. At 1 month, patients responding to treatment reported significantly less interference by pain on their general activity, walking ability, normal work, sleeping, and enjoyment of life than did patients not responding to treatment.

Conclusions: Patients that responded to treatment reported less functional interference due to pain than did patients who did not respond. Despite being very near the end of life, patients responding to palliative radiotherapy for painful bone metastases may benefit from more than pain relief alone.

World J Oncol. 2011;2(2):47-52


Bone metastases; Pain; Palliative care; Prognosis; Radiotherapy; Quality of life

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