(HealthDay News) – Although single-fraction radiotherapy has been shown to be effective for pain relief of bone metastases in patients with prostate cancer, only about 3% of elderly patients receive single-fraction compared with multiple-fraction radiotherapy, according to a research letter published in the Oct. 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Justin E. Bekelman, MD, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues analyzed data on radiotherapy and costs from 3,050 patients with prostate cancer and bone metastases aged ≥65 years.

The researchers found that only 3.3% of patients had single-fraction radiotherapy. Median survival was significantly lower in the single-fraction group than in the multiple-fraction group (5 vs. 11.9 months). Mean 45-day radiotherapy-related costs were significantly lower for the single-fraction group ($1,873 vs. $4,967). In contrast, mean 45-day total health care costs were non-significantly higher for the single-fraction group ($13,112 vs.  $11,702).

“Despite evidence demonstrating comparable pain relief for single-fraction treatment, only 3.3% of Medicare beneficiaries with bone metastases from prostate cancer received single-fraction treatment,” Bekelman and colleagues conclude.

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