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Lutz S.T.,Blanchard Valley Regional Cancer Center | Jones J.,University of Pennsylvania | Chow E.,University of Toronto
Journal of Clinical Oncology | Year: 2014

Radiotherapy is a successful, time-efficient, well-tolerated, and cost-effective intervention that is crucial for the appropriate delivery of palliative oncology care. The distinction between curative and palliative goals is blurred in many patients with cancer, requiring that treatments be chosen on the basis of factors related to the patient (ie, poor performance status, advanced age, significant weight loss, severe comorbid disease), the cancer (ie, metastatic disease, aggressive histology), or the treatment (ie, poor response to systemic therapy, previous radiotherapy). Goals may include symptom relief at the site of primary tumor or from metastatic lesions. Attention to a patient's discomfort and transportation limitations requires hypofractionated courses, when feasible. Innovative approaches include rapid response palliative care clinics as well as the formation of palliative radiotherapy specialty services in academic centers. Guidelines are providing better definitions of appropriate palliative radiotherapy interventions, and bone metastases fractionation has become the first radiotherapy quality measure accepted by the National Quality Forum. Further advances in the palliative radiation oncology subspecialty will require integration of education and training between the radiotherapy and palliative care specialties. © 2014 by American Society of Clinical Oncology.


Lutz S.,Blanchard Valley Regional Cancer Center | Chow E.,University of Toronto
Journal of Bone Oncology | Year: 2012

Bone metastases are a common manifestation of malignancy, and external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) effectively and safely palliates the pain caused by this clinical circumstance. The myriad of EBRT dosing schemes and complexities involved with coordinating radiotherapy with other interventions necessitated the need for bone metastases treatment guidelines. Here we compare and contrast the bone metastases radiotherapy treatment guidelines recently published by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and the American College of Radiology (ACR). These evaluations acknowledge current controversies in treatment approaches, they evaluate the nuances of ASTRO and ACR task force decisionmaking regarding standard approaches to care, and they project the upcoming research results that may clarify approaches to palliative radiotherapy for bone metastases. The results of these two dedicated radiotherapy guidelines are compared to the brief mentions of radiotherapy for bone metastases in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines. Finally, the paper describes how treatment guidelines may influence patterns of care and reimbursement by their use as quality measures by groups such as the National Quality Forum (NQF). © 2012 Elsevier GmbH.


Jones J.A.,University of Pennsylvania | Lutz S.T.,Blanchard Valley Regional Cancer Center | Chow E.,University of Toronto | Johnstone P.A.,Indiana University
CA Cancer Journal for Clinicians | Year: 2014

When delivered with palliative intent, radiotherapy can help to alleviate a multitude of symptoms related to advanced cancer. In general, time to symptom relief is measured in weeks to months after the completion of radiotherapy. Over the past several years, an increasing number of studies have explored rates of radiotherapy use in the final months of life and have found variable rates of radiotherapy use. The optimal rate is unclear, but would incorporate anticipated efficacy in patients whose survival allows it and minimize overuse among patients with expected short survival. Clinician prediction has been shown to overestimate the length of survival in repeated studies. Prognostic indices can provide assistance with estimations of survival length and may help to guide treatment decisions regarding palliative radiotherapy in patients with potentially short survival times. This review explores the recent studies of radiotherapy near the end of life, examines general prognostic models for patients with advanced cancer, describes specific clinical circumstances when radiotherapy may and may not be beneficial, and addresses open questions for future research to help clarify when palliative radiotherapy may be effective near the end of life. © 2014 American Cancer Society.


Estabrook N.C.,Indiana University | Lutz S.T.,Blanchard Valley Regional Cancer Center | Johnson C.S.,Indiana University | Henderson M.A.,Indiana University
Journal of Supportive Oncology | Year: 2013

Background: Patients with brain metastases from solid tumors can be subdivided by characteristics into separate prognostic groups, such as the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group's Recursive Partitioning Analysis (RPA) or the Graded Prognostic Assessment (GPA). At our institution, patients falling into the poorest prognostic groups are often treated with whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT). Objective: To determine if observed survival of poor prognosis patients treated with WBRT for brain metastases at our institution matches the survival predicted by RPA and GPA prognostic indices. Methods: The charts of 101 consecutive patients with newly diagnosed brain metastases from solid tumors who received WBRT were retrospectively reviewed. We calculated each patient's RPA and GPA and compiled treatment and survival data. Observed median survival was compared to that predicted by the RPA and GPA prognostic indices. Results: RPA III patients (n = 25) had a median survival of 2.4 months in our study. GPA 0.0-1.0 patients (n = 35) had a median survival of 2.4 months in our study. These values did not vary significantly from those predicted by the respective indices. Limitations This is a retrospective analysis and subject to selection bias. Conclusion: Given the delivery time for WBRT and the potential side effects associated with the treatment, the predictably short overall survival in poor prognosis patients calls into question the value of WBRT in this patient subgroup. © 2013 Frontline Medical Communications.


Hahn C.,Duke University | Kavanagh B.,University of Colorado at Denver | Bhatnagar A.,Cancer Treatment Services International | Jacobson G.,West Virginia University | And 4 more authors.
Practical Radiation Oncology | Year: 2014

To highlight 5 interventions that patients should question, as part of the Choosing Wisely campaign. This initiative, led by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, fosters conversations between physicians and patients about treatments and tests that may be overused, unnecessary, or potentially harmful. Methods and materials: Potential items were initially compiled using an online survey. They were then evaluated and refined by a work group representing the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Clinical Affairs and Quality, Health Policy, and Government Relations Councils. Literature reviews were carried out to support the recommendation and narrative, as well as to provide references for each item. A final list of 5 items was then selected by the ASTRO Board of Directors. Results: ASTRO's 5 recommendations for the Choosing Wisely campaign are the following: (1) Don't initiate whole-breast radiation therapy as a part of breast conservation therapy in women age ≥. 50 with early-stage invasive breast cancer without considering shorter treatment schedules; (2) don't initiate management of low-risk prostate cancer without discussing active surveillance; (3) don't routinely use extended fractionation schemes (>. 10 fractions) for palliation of bone metastases; (4) don't routinely recommend proton beam therapy for prostate cancer outside of a prospective clinical trial or registry; and (5) don't routinely use intensity modulated radiation therapy to deliver whole-breast radiation therapy as part of breast conservation therapy. Conclusions: The ASTRO list for the Choosing Wisely campaign highlights radiation oncology interventions that should be discussed between physicians and patients before treatment is initiated. These 5 items provide opportunities to offer higher quality and less costly care. © 2014 American Society for Radiation Oncology.

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