Guidelines for Palliative Treatment of Spinal Metastases: Choosing Between Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy and Conventional Fractionation
February 11, 2021
Symptomatic spinal metastasis is a frequent complication of cancer that had been treated, until relatively recently, with primitive techniques to modest radiation dose levels, with a baseline assumption of limited survival and poor patient performance in that setting. In the era of targeted and personalized therapies, many patients are living longer and more functionally and are able to manage their disease on the model of chronic illness. Given these developments, an attractive option is the use of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) to deliver high biologically effective doses of radiation conformally to maximize the palliative gains of treatment. However, randomized data to guide practice are scarce. We review the extant literature and present an algorithmic approach to selecting patients with metastatic disease for palliative spinal SBRT favoring the results of available randomized studies and remaining within the safety constraints supported by evidence from randomized trials.