Most men given radiation to control pain from advanced prostate cancer undergo more treatments than they really need, a new study suggests.
Looking at Medicare claims data, the investigators found that single-session treatments were done in only about 3% of men receiving radiation for prostate cancer that had spread to the bones. What's more, half of the patients went through more than 10 treatments.
"Fraction" refers to a session of radiation treatment. Studies have found that one treatment, at a relatively larger dose of 8 Gy, is as effective for pain relief as 20 Gy given over five treatments, or 30 Gy given over 10 treatments.
Although the evidence started coming in more than a decade ago, it was in 2005 that a large US clinical trial showed that a single radiation treatment was just as good as multiple treatments for patients whose cancer had spread to the bones.