Stanford and University of California at San Francisco are launching clinical trials related to using ultra sound waves to ease the pain that cancer patients experience when the cancer has moved into the bones.
Often the most painful form of cancer, metastatic bone cancer many times will not respond to the current pain relief methods such as radiation or narcotics. Earlier studies have shown that radiation therapy might be an alternative to those who do not respond to traditional pain relief methods.
This form of pain management is still considered in the experimental stages and is not widely available to cancer patients. It is being studied only for pain management and not for treating the cancer itself.
"Radiation is very effective for most patients. But there is still a significant percentage that it doesn't work for," said Dr. Pejman Ghanouni, a Stanford radiologist who is leading ultrasound clinical trials there. "I don't view ultrasound as something that would replace radiation. It's another tool in the toolbox."
Radiation treatment has been routinely used for pain relief due to its ability to kill the small tumors in the bone that cause the initial pain. The drawback to this form of pain treatment is typically the amount of radiation a person can undergo is limited. Once a patient reaches their maximum exposure limit, other forms of pain management must be used and those alternatives are not always effective.
Stanford and USCF are currently recruiting for the trials that will test high-intensity ultrasound waves to ease the pain of metastatic bone cancer. Anyone wishing further information or to be considered for the trials should go to links.sfgate.com/ZLEY or links.sfgate.com/ZLEZ.