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Palliative radiotherapy in paediatric malignancies

Publication year
Bhasker, S.; Bajpai, V.; Turaka, A.

INTRODUCTION: Providing effective palliative treatment in childhood malignancies is a challenging task. This study evaluated the role of palliative radiotherapy in the management of incurable paediatric malignancies. METHODS: Records of 40 paediatric patients treated between January 2003 and November 2005 were reviewed and analysed retrospectively. All had received palliative external beam radiotherapy for symptom control either as a single modality or in addition to surgery, chemotherapy and drugs for symptomatic relief. RESULTS: Predominant symptoms noticed were swelling with or without pain, bleeding, and weakness of limbs. Median duration of symptoms was 90 days. Malignant round cell tumours were most common followed by retinoblastoma, neuroblastoma, Ewing’s sarcoma and acute myeloid leukaemia with chloromas. 45 percent of children had disseminated disease at presentation. Nine underwent surgery, while 32 patients received chemotherapy, and all but two received drugs for symptomatic relief in addition to palliative radiotherapy. Dose schedules were either 5 Gy or 8 Gy in single fraction, while for fractionated radiotherapy, the range was 20 Gy in five fractions to 30 Gy in ten fractions. With regard to symptomatic relief, four patients had complete relief, 20 showed good relief, 15 had little and one did not have any relief. On completion of multimodality treatment, tumour response was complete in two patients, 18 had partial response, eight had stable disease, eight had progressive disease, and the disease status of four was unknown. CONCLUSION: The role of radiotherapy as a palliative modality in children with locally-advanced lesions provides better symptomatic relief in combination with other treatment modalities.

Research abstracts