The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 48: 599 - 606 (2004)

Vol 48, Issue 5-6

Special Issue: Invasion in Cancer and Embryonic Development

Pain control by ionizing radiation of bone metastasis

Published: 1 September 2004

Luc A.M.-L. Vakaet and Tom Boterberg

Department of Radiotherapy, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.


Pain treatment due to cancer is a large fraction of the care in a radiotherapy department. While radiation treatment is very effective in reducing pain, the pathophysiology of bone metastases remains very complex. Reducing the number of tumour cells by radiation will reduce the pressure in bone marrow, but the very rapid response to radiation treatment seen in some patients is probably related to the presence of highly radiosensitive inflammatory cells. In this review we give an overview of the pathophysiological mechanisms which lead to pain associated with bone metastasis and the impact of radiation treatment and other treatments on this mechanism.


bone metastasis, pain control, radiation therapy, pathophysiology

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