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Original Investigation
April 25, 2019

Single-Fraction Stereotactic vs Conventional Multifraction Radiotherapy for Pain Relief in Patients With Predominantly Nonspine Bone Metastases: A Randomized Phase 2 Trial

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
  • 2Department of Orthopedic Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
  • 3Department of Radiation Oncology, Odette Cancer Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
JAMA Oncol. 2019;5(6):872-878. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.0192
Key Points

Question  Does single-fraction stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) for bone metastases lead to better pain response rates than standard multifraction radiotherapy (MFRT)?

Findings  In this prospective randomized phase 2 noninferiority trial, 160 patients with mostly nonspine bone lesions were randomly assigned to receive single-fraction SBRT (12 Gy for ≥4-cm lesions or 16 Gy for <4-cm lesions) or MFRT to 30 Gy in 10 fractions. Single-fraction radiation led to more patients experiencing complete or partial pain response at 2 weeks, 3 months, and 9 months compared with standard MFRT.

Meaning  Pain response rates were higher for high-dose, single-fraction SBRT, which should be considered for patients with bone metastases and long estimated survival times.


Importance  Consensus is lacking as to the optimal radiotherapy dose and fractionation schedule for treating bone metastases.

Objective  To assess the relative efficacy of high-dose, single-fraction stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) vs standard multifraction radiotherapy (MFRT) for alleviation of pain in patients with mostly nonspine bone metastases.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This prospective, randomized, single-institution phase 2 noninferiority trial conducted at a tertiary cancer care center enrolled 160 patients with radiologically confirmed painful bone metastases from September 19, 2014, through June 19, 2018. Patients were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive either single-fraction SBRT (12 Gy for ≥4-cm lesions or 16 Gy for <4-cm lesions) or MFRT to 30 Gy in 10 fractions.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary end point was pain response, defined by international consensus criteria as a combination of pain score and analgesic use (daily morphine-equivalent dose). Pain failure (ie, lack of response) was defined as worsening pain score (≥2 points on a 0-to-10 scale), an increase in morphine-equivalent opioid dose of 50% or more, reirradiation, or pathologic fracture. We hypothesized that SBRT was noninferior to MFRT.

Results  In this phase 2 noninferiority trial of 96 men and 64 women (mean [SD] age, 62.4 [10.4] years), 81 patients received SBRT and 79 received MFRT. Among evaluable patients who received treatment per protocol, the single-fraction group had more pain responders than the MFRT group (complete response + partial response) at 2 weeks (34 of 55 [62%] vs 19 of 52 [36%]) (P = .01), 3 months (31 of 43 [72%] vs 17 of 35 [49%]) (P = .03), and 9 months (17 of 22 [77%] vs 12 of 26 [46%]) (P = .03). No differences were found in treatment-related toxic effects or quality-of-life scores after SBRT vs MFRT; local control rates at 1 and 2 years were higher in patients receiving single-fraction SBRT.

Conclusions and Relevance  Delivering high-dose, single-fraction SBRT seems to be an effective treatment option for patients with painful bone metastases. Among evaluable patients, SBRT had higher rates of pain response (complete response + partial response) than did MFRT and thus should be considered for patients expected to have relatively long survival.

Trial Registration  ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02163226