Clinical outcomes of helical conformal versus nonconformal palliative radiation therapy for axial skeletal metastases

Kara D. Romano, Daniel M. Trifiletti, Kristine Bauer-Nilsen, Nolan A. Wages, William T. Watkins, Paul W. Read, Timothy N. Showalter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose Palliative radiation therapy (RT) for bone metastases has traditionally been delivered with conventional, nonconformal RT (NCRT). Conformal RT (CRT) is potentially more complex and expensive than NCRT, but may reduce normal tissue dose and subsequently toxicity. In this retrospective analysis, we compared CRT with NCRT to investigate the association between conformality and toxicity. Methods and materials A retrospective analysis of patients receiving palliative RT for axial skeletal bone metastases from 2012 to 2014 was conducted. Patient and treatment characteristics were obtained including dosimetric variables, acute toxicity, and subjective pain during treatment and in the acute posttreatment period (≤60 days after completion). Statistical analyses included t tests, χ2 tests, and multivariate logistic regression. Results A total of 179 patients and 254 bone metastases were identified (142 CRT, 112 NCRT). The CRT and NCRT groups were well matched for baseline characteristics (number of fractions, field size, treatment sites, and concurrent chemotherapy). In multivariate logistic regression models, technique (CRT vs NCRT) was not associated with development of acute toxicity. Regarding toxicity, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status and total dose were significantly associated with a higher rate of acute toxicity during RT (odds ratios, 0.649 and 1.129 and P = .027 and .044, respectively), and only a higher number of vertebral bodies in the treatment field was significantly associated with acute toxicity post-treatment (odds ratios, 1.219, P = .028). CRT was associated with improvement in bone pain during and posttreatment (P = .049 and .045, respectively). Conclusions Our results demonstrate no difference in acute toxicity following palliative RT with CRT compared with NCRT for painful bone metastases; however, treatment volume did predict for increased toxicity. Larger studies may further elucidate the value of CRT including the impact of dose escalation for bone metastases and differences in patient reported outcomes between RT techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e479-e487
JournalPractical Radiation Oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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