Researchers find safer alternative to radiation therapy for spinal tumors


A study carried out by Irvine researchers at the University of California brings forth a new therapy using radioactive material that questions the efficacy of radiation therapy for bone tumors. According to the finding of the study, for treating bone tumors, a radioactive bone cement injected into the bone to provide local irradiation and support is proving to be a safer alternative over traditional radiation therapy.

Elaborating on the therapy, brachytherapy cement can be placed in spinal bones for direct radiation to the tumors without damaging the spinal cord. During therapy, the radioactive material stays localized in the bones with the promise to virtually eliminate any side effects.

The findings of the study presented at the annual meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society, 2021 by the lead researcher in a virtual event.

Coming to the medical explanation, cancers that originate in the prostate, lung, thyroid, breast, kidney, and other locations can spread to eat the bones, most commonly of the spine. To complicate this, normal radiation to treat cancerous tumor can threaten the spinal cord and erode the bones that are already compromised by spread of the tumor, which increases the risk of a fracture.

In fact, using traditional radiation therapy, it requires multiple sittings of external beam radiation to treat the cancer spread in the spine. Further, on the downside, the radiation has unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, and because it passes through the spinal cord it often results in delays and limited use of the treatment.

β€œOn the other hand, brachytherapy cement could be used in a convenient one-step manner without delays. The minimally invasive nature of the treatment to irradiate tumors is the icing on the cake.” Said the lead researcher of the study.

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