Relieving Crippling Bone Cancer Pain

Bone metastasis pain relieving system approved by FDA

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) When cancer starts to spread, the bone is often one of its first destinations. Pain is the most common symptom of bone metastasis (spread). A new device has been approved to handle this often crippling pain.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved ExAblate MRI guided focused ultrasound for treating painful bone metastases in patients who can’t have radiation therapy.

This device, manufactured by InSightec Ltd., is also approved by the FDA for treating uterine fibroids.

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Bone is the first site of metastasis in about 75 percent of breast and prostate cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. About 30 percent of metastatic lung, bladder, and thyroid cancers also go to the bone.

“Pain is the most common and most severe symptom for patients suffering from bone cancer; we believe that ExAblate can help significantly improve the quality of life for patients,” said Tom Gentile, president and CEO of GE Healthcare Systems and InSightec board member in a press release. GE Healthcare is a minority shareholder of Insightec, Ltd.

The ExAblate system uses ultrasound acoustic energy to kill the nerves that cause metastatic bone pain. The system combines ultrasound waves with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which clinicians use to plan and guide the therapy and also monitor how well the treatment is working.

Bone metastases are usually treated with radiation therapy. For 30 percent of patients, though, this therapy either doesn’t work or isn’t appropriate. For these patients, the clinical study used for the FDA approval showed that ExAblate therapy reduces pain significantly, while improving patient function and well-being.

A total of 28 patients reported their pain levels using the standard 0-10 scale. Participants said they had a steady decline in pain from 6.9 on the first day of treatment to 0.9 three months after treatment.

Study members also reported using less pain medication following ExAblate therapy. ExAblate was approved in 2004 to treat uterine fibroids.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 26, 2012
Last Updated:
April 11, 2013