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Considerations for Quality Improvement in Radiation Oncology Therapy for Patients with Uncomplicated Painful Bone Metastases.

Walling AM, Beron PJ, Kaprealian T, Kupelian PA, Wenger NS, McCloskey SA, King CR, Steinberg M. Considerations for Quality Improvement in Radiation Oncology Therapy for Patients with Uncomplicated Painful Bone Metastases. Journal of palliative medicine. 2017 May 1; 20(5):478-486.

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Abstract:

There is an increasing need for evidence-based efficiency in providing a growing amount of cancer care. One example of a quality gap is the use of multiple-fraction palliative radiation for patients with advanced cancer who have uncomplicated bone metastases; evidence suggests similar pain outcomes for treatment regimens with a lower burden of treatments. During the first phase of quality improvement work, we used RAND/UCLA appropriateness methodology to understand how radiation oncologists at one academic medical center rate the appropriateness of different treatment regimens for painful uncomplicated bone metastases. We compared radiation oncologist appropriateness ratings for radiation treatments with radiation therapy provided by these oncologists to patients with painful bone metastases between July 2012 and June 2013. Appropriateness ratings showed that single-fraction (8?Gy) treatment (a low burden treatment) was consistently considered an appropriate option to treat a variety of uncomplicated bone metastases. The use of > 10 fractions was consistently rated as inappropriate regardless of other factors. Eighty-one patients receiving radiation therapy for painful bone metastases during the study period had an available medical record for chart abstraction. Almost one-third of metastases were considered complicated because of a concern of spinal cord compression, a history of prior irradiation, or an associated pathological fracture. Among uncomplicated bone metastases, 25% were treated with stereotactic body radiation treatment (SBRT). Among the 54 uncomplicated bone metastases treated with conformal radiation, only one was treated with single-fraction treatment and 32% were treated with greater than 10 fractions. Treatment at the study site demonstrates room for improvement in providing low-burden radiation oncology treatments for patients with painful bone metastases. Choosing a radiation treatment schedule for patients with advanced cancer and painful bone metastases requires consideration of many medical and patient-centered factors. Our experience suggests that it will take more than the existence of guidelines to change practice in this area.





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