The management of painful bone metastases with an emphasis on radionuclide therapy

Darren J. Hillegonds, Stephen Franklin, David K. Shelton, Srinivasan Vijayakumar, Vani Vijayakumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Objective: This review provides an update on the management of painful bone metastases, with an emphasis on radionuclide therapy, and introduces oligometastases and quantitative imaging evaluations for clinical trials. Methods: The current use of radionuclides, alone and in combination with chemotherapy and radiation therapy for painful bone metastases, is discussed, including toxicity, cost and overall outcomes. Results: Radionuclide therapy is shown to be a useful and cost-effective means of alleviating bone pain in metastatic disease and may be more effective when combined with chemotherapy, bisphosphonates and radiation therapy. Early use of radionuclides in pain therapy may limit cancer progression by inhibiting oligometastases development. Thus, radionuclides can significantly decrease patient morbidity, prolong patient survival, and may decrease the occurrence of new bone metastases. Conclusion: Palliative pain therapy is critical for effectively managing bone metastases, with treatment options including analgesics, external beam radiotherapy, chemotherapy and radionuclides. Radionuclide therapy is underutilized. Recent studies using radionuclides with chemotherapy and bisphosponates, or using newer radionuclides or combinations of radionuclides and treatment paradigms (e.g., higher activities, repetitive or cyclic administration, chemo sensitization, chemo supplementation), are encouraging. A comprehensive, inter-disciplinary clinical approach is needed. Clinical collaborations will optimize radionuclide therapy for pain palliation and increase awareness of its benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)785-794
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone
  • Cancer
  • Metastasis
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'The management of painful bone metastases with an emphasis on radionuclide therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this