He added that patients need not worry that doing one radiation treatment instead of several will affect their cancer survival. "The goal with this treatment is to treat pain. It has nothing to do with survival," Bekelman pointed out.
Other types of cancer, such as breast and lung cancers, commonly spread to the bones at advanced stages. And a single radiation treatment is effective at treating pain in those patients as well, Lawton said.
It's not clear whether single treatments are also underused in those patients. But, Lawton said, "I would guess that they are."
The Choosing Wisely campaign has more on reducing unnecessary radiation therapy.
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