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Steroid pill reduces pain flare for cancer patients with bone metastases

October 18, 2015

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Taking a low dose of the steroid pill dexamethasone reduces the pain experienced by cancer patients who undergo radiotherapy to treat pain associated with bone metastases, reports a large, Canadian multi-centre study led by the NCIC Clinical Trials Group.

The abstract of this trial with 298 patients and conducted in 23 centres across Canada was presented at this year’s ASTRO (American Society for Radiation Oncology) Annual Meeting.

In this double-blind study, patients received either 2 dexamethasone tablets or two placebo tablets every day for five days beginning on the day they received radiation treatment. The aim of the study was to look at whether pain flare could be reduced with dexamethasone. Pain flare is a temporary condition that occurs in some patients in the first 10 days after receiving radiotherapy.

The researchers report the dexamethasone group experienced fewer episodes of pain flare than the placebo group. For dexamethasone group patients who did experience pain flare, their experience was less severe than that of the placebo group. Ten days post radiotherapy, side effects such as nausea, functional interference (a consequence of having pain) and loss of appetite were significantly improved for dexamethasone group patients compared to patients in the placebo group.

“Based on our results, we recommend that patients who are scheduled to receive radiation therapy to control painful bone metastases also receive a short course of dexamethasone to reduce the risk of experiencing an acute pain flare,” says Dr. Edward Chow, study co-author, radiation oncologist, and lead of the Bone Metastases Care team, and Rapid Radiotherapy Response team at Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Steroid pill reduces pain flare for cancer patients with bone metastases

October 18, 2015, 6:00 p.m. ET (Toronto, ON) – Taking a low dose of the steroid pill dexamethasone reduces the pain experienced by cancer patients who undergo radiotherapy to treat pain associated with bone metastases, reports a large, Canadian multi-centre study led by the NCIC Clinical Trials Group.

“We are committed to improving patients’ quality of life,” says Dr. Edward Chow, study co-author, radiation oncologist, and lead of the Bone Metastases Care team, and Rapid Radiotherapy Response team at Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre. “This approach is one more meaningful way that we can help mitigate pain for individuals already experiencing significant illness and discomfort.“

The abstract of this trial with 298 patients and conducted in 23 centres across Canada was presented at this year’s ASTRO (American Society for Radiation Oncology) Annual Meeting.

In this double-blind study, patients received either 2 dexamethasone tablets or two placebo tablets every day for five days beginning on the day they received radiation treatment. The aim of the study was to look at whether pain flare could be reduced with dexamethasone. Pain flare is a temporary condition that occurs in some patients in the first 10 days after receiving radiotherapy.

The researchers report the dexamethasone group experienced fewer episodes of pain flare than the placebo group. For dexamethasone group patients who did experience pain flare, their experience was less severe than that of the placebo group. Ten days post radiotherapy, side effects such as nausea, functional interference (a consequence of having pain) and loss of appetite were significantly improved for dexamethasone group patients compared to patients in the placebo group.

“Based on our results, we recommend that patients who are scheduled to receive radiation therapy to control painful bone metastases also receive a short course of dexamethasone to reduce the risk of experiencing an acute pain flare,” says Dr. Chow.

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For more information, contact:
Natalie Chung-Sayers, Communications Advisor,
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
416-480-4040 

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