When and How Should Radiotherapy Be Considered for Pain Management?

Divya Yerramilli, Kavita V. Dharmarajan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Radiation oncology is a useful tool for patients who have advanced cancer and are experiencing pain. For patients who can localize their pain to a specific site correlating to radiographic findings, radiation therapy may be indicated. Pain may be due to local destruction of bone or soft tissue, or impingement on nerves or nerve bundles. For patients with more diffuse bony pain, radiopharmaceuticals may be helpful. Many important clinical trials support the use of radiation therapy, and the focus of recent publications supports shortening treatments, maximizing durable pain control, and preserving quality of life. This chapter presents the rationale for the importance of frequent and early referrals to radiation oncology for pain management in the palliative care setting. The chapter briefly outlines how radiation therapy works, summarizes the benefits of a comprehensive radiation oncology evaluation, and provides an update on modern techniques that enable the safe delivery of radiation therapy with relatively few side effects. It also provides a practical overview of when physicians can refer to radiation oncology and what patients can expect.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEvidence-Based Practice of Palliative Medicine, Second Edition
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780323847025
ISBN (Print)9780323847032
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • bone metastases
  • bone pain
  • cancer pain
  • radiation
  • radiopharmaceuticals
  • radiotherapy
  • spine metastases


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