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Semin Oncol. 2005 Apr;32(2):156-64.

Palliative radiation therapy.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA 19111, USA.


Radiation is an effective modality to aid in symptom management of patients with metastatic disease. The type and duration of treatment depends on the Karnofsky performance status (KPS) of the patient and type and status of the cancer. Abbreviated treatment regimens may be favored in this patient population. They provide quick palliation without the patient and family spending significant time traveling back and forth to the treatment center. Hypofractionated regimens have been found effective in relieving pain from metastatic bone disease, relieving obstruction from locally advanced lung cancer, bleeding from gynecologic cancers, and hematuria from advanced bladder cancer. More aggressive regimens such as whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT) and stereotactic radiosurgery may be appropriate for select patients with a good KPS. Radiation has also been found to be effective in palliating recurrent cancer that has already received definitive radiation.

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