Radiotherapy Practice for Treatment of Bone Metastasis in Ethiopia

Tara J. Rick, Biruk Habtamu, Wondemagegnhu Tigeneh, Aynalem Abreha, Surbhi Grover, Mathewos Assefa, Wilma Heemsbergen, Luca Incrocci*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


PUROSE Ethiopia has one cobalt radiotherapy (RT) machine to serve a population of more than 100 million. The purpose of this study was to report on patterns of palliative RT of bone metastasis in a severely low-capacity setting. PATIENTS AND METHODS Patient and treatment characteristics of patients irradiated for palliation of symptomatic bone metastasis were extracted from a retrospective database of patients treated between May 2015 and January 2018. This database included a random sample of 1,823 of the estimated 4,000 patients who were treated with RT within in the study period. Associations between the applied RT schedule and patient and tumor characteristics were evaluated with the χ2 test. Hypothetical savings of RT sessions and time were compared in the case of a single-fraction policy. RESULTS From the database, 234 patients (13%) were treated for bone metastasis. Most patients were ≤ 65 years of age (n = 189; 80%) and female (n = 125; 53%). The most common primary sites were breast (n = 82; 35%) and prostate (n = 36; 15%). Fractionated regimens were preferred over single fraction: 20 Gy in 5 fractions (n = 192; 82.1%), 30 Gy in 10 fractions (n = 7; 3%), and 8 Gy in 1 fraction (n = 28; 12%). Factors associated with single-fraction RT included nonaxial sites of bone metastasis (P, .01) and an address outside Addis Ababa (P ≤ .01). If single-fraction RT would have been given uniformly for bone metastasis, this would have resulted in a 78% reduction in the number of RT sessions and 76% reduction in total RT time. CONCLUSION The pattern of palliative RT for bone metastasis in Ethiopia favors fractionated regimens over single fraction. Efforts should be made to adopt evidence-based and cost-effective guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1422-1427
Number of pages6
JournalJCO Global Oncology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by an unrestricted grant from Varian Medical Systems (L.I.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by American Society of Clinical Oncology


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