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New Clinical Trial for Metastatic Cancer to the Spine

As technology continues to evolve, medical research can be conducted at a more efficient pace. New minimally invasive techniques have changed the way we think about surgical intervention. To start 2015 on the right foot in the combat against cancer, a team of physicians from Loyola University Medical Center have just started a clinical trial that has great potential.

This study, entitled, “Combining Intraoperative Radiotherapy with Kyphoplasty for Treatment of Spinal Metastases (Kypho-IORT )”, is sponsored by the departments of Radiation Oncology and Radiology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. The team, led by Dr. William Small Jr., the chair of radiation oncology, is looking at a new intraoperative radiotherapy technique in cancer that has spread to the spine. As I mentioned in my previous article on Bone Cancer (see here), primary bone cancer is not very common. However, cancer has a strong tendency to use bones as an avenue to spread cancer. Because the spine (also called the vertebral column) is so central in the human body in terms of both anatomy and physiology, it makes it highly susceptible to metastatic cancer.

The trial involves a combination of two techniques: intraoperative radiotherapy and kyphoplasty. The primary issue with metastatic cancer to the spine is that the vertebral column becomes weak, which may result in debilitating pain. Moreover, it can also lead to the self-collapse of the vertebra. Therefore, this trial will lead to hopefully an alleviation of both problems, oncological and structural.

The first step involves a small incision into the spine, and the insertion of a spinal applicator needle by an interventional radiologist. Next, radiation will be applied via the needle directly to the tumor. The main benefit of this step is that the radiation will not harm the surrounding healthy tissue. In addition, since it is a smaller area, a higher dosage of radiation can be applied compared to conventional means.

The second step is a kyphoplasty. Kyphoplasty has been used in spinal procedures for patients suffering from osteoporosis, with the intention of restoring stabilization to the bone due to spinal fracture. The purpose of its use in this trial is similar. According to Newswise, “a catheter is inserted through the incision. Next, a balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated to increase the height of the collapsed vertebra. A cement-like material then is injected into the radiated area to help stabilize the spine.”

This trial is the first of its kind in the United States. The goals of this trial are to:

  • Analyze the pros and cons of combining intraoperative radiotherapy and kyphoplasty
  • Compare pain levels before and after the procedure in order to determine the magnitude of pain relief
  • Comprehensively monitor quality of life
  • Monitor the effect of the procedure on the tumor
  • Duly note any complications that may be present

In conclusion, this clinical trial has great promise. This clinical trial is only in Phase 1, thus the primary goal as of now is to screen for safety. Continuous and careful follow up of this trial will need to be conducted. Although the general goal in oncology is to prevent cancer and detect it early, there are many who are not fortunate enough to experience such opportune conditions. Therefore, this trial will be a great asset not only to metastatic spine cancer, but could potentially be extrapolated to secondary bone cancer.

According to Science Daily, “To qualify for the trial, a patient must meet several criteria, including being 50 or older and having metastatic cancer that has spread from a solid tumor to the spine.” For more information, call (708)-216-2568.

 

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SC Ali

About SC Ali

S.C. Ali is an author/editor. He has a degree in Chemistry, and is interested in the study and practice of medicine. His blog can be found here: http://thebronzelifestyle.com/

SC Ali

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