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Semin Nucl Med. 2010 Mar;40(2):89-104. doi: 10.1053/j.semnuclmed.2009.10.003.

Systemic metabolic radiopharmaceutical therapy in the treatment of metastatic bone pain.

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  • 1Division of Nuclear Medicine, Department of Radiology, University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center/Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Miami, FL 33136, USA.


Bone pain due to skeletal metastases constitutes the most common type of chronic pain among patients with cancer. It significantly decreases the patient's quality of life and is associated with comorbidities, such as hypercalcemia, pathologic fractures and spinal cord compression. Approximately 65% of patients with prostate or breast cancer and 35% of those with advanced lung, thyroid, and kidney cancers will have symptomatic skeletal metastases. The management of bone pain is extremely difficult and involves a multidisciplinary approach, which usually includes analgesics, hormone therapies, bisphosphonates, external beam radiation, and systemic radiopharmaceuticals. In patients with extensive osseous metastases, systemic radiopharmaceuticals should be the preferred adjunctive therapy for pain palliation. In this article, we review the current approved radiopharmaceutical armamentarium for bone pain palliation, focusing on indications, patient selection, efficacy, and different biochemical characteristics and toxicity of strontium-89 chloride, samarium-153 lexidronam, and rhenium-186 etidronate. A brief discussion on the available data on rhenium-188 is presented focusing on its major advantages and disadvantages. We also perform a concise appraisal of the other available treatment options, including pharmacologic and hormonal treatment modalities, external beam radiation, and bisphosphonates. Finally, the available data on combination therapy of radiopharmaceuticals with bisphosphonates or chemotherapy are discussed.

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