SUPR-3D: Simple Unplanned Palliative Radiotherapy Versus 3D Conformal Radiotherapy for Patients With Bone Metastases

  • End date
    Jun 22, 2028
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    British Columbia Cancer Agency
Updated on 22 April 2022
bone metastases
primary cancer
conformal radiotherapy


The primary objective is to patient-reported Quality of Life related to complete control of Radiation Induced Nausea and Vomiting (RINV) between standard palliative radiotherapy and VMAT. Secondarily, we will assess rate of complete control of RINV. However, the investigators hypothesize that there will be no difference in pain response between the two arms, because they are receiving the same dose.


For this study, SUPR (simple unplanned palliative radiotherapy) refers to the delivery of radiation to the treatment area with a simple technique, either two opposed fields (parallel opposed pair), or a single direct field. The entire portal is exposed to the specified dose and therefore does not spare normal tissue. This technique requires minimal calculation, and typically the dose distribution is not reviewed by the radiation oncologist or medical physics.

In general, the adverse event profile of RT is associated with irradiation of normal tissue within the treatment field. With the dose prescribed in this study, the probability of serious adverse effects is exceedingly low. However, fatigue, soreness, pain flare, and skin-redness in the irradiated area are relatively common adverse events. In addition, site-specific toxicity could occur, including esophagitis, nausea, or diarrhea when there is dose delivered to the GI tract. Avoiding this toxicity is a motivating factor for the study.

In order to deliver 3D Conformal Radiotherapy, a computerized tomography (CT) simulation is used to develop the treatment plan. The goal is to deliver a conformal radiation dose to the target volume with maximal sparing of the normal tissue. VMAT (Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy) is a type of 3D conformal RT, and delivers the radiation dose more conformally than SUPR, possibly reducing acute and late toxicity. The disadvantages of VMAT include more complex planning and quality assurance processes compared with SUPR. The complex planning required can be time-consuming, which can have a significant impact on departmental resources, and the wait time for the patient.

Bone metastases are the most common site of distant metastases and can cause severe and disabling effects, including pain, spinal cord compression and pathologic fracture. These complications can greatly affect a patient's quality of life and cause immense suffering.

Radiotherapy (RT) is an effective treatment for palliative patients with painful bone metastases. It is also efficacious in preserving function and maintaining skeletal integrity, while minimizing the occurrence of adverse skeletal related events. There is a significant amount of evidence showing that a single fraction (SF) of RT provides equivalent pain relief as multiple fractions (MF), which are associated with more acute toxicity, are less convenient for patients and costlier for the health care system. Therefore, single fraction radiation therapy (SFRT) is encouraged, but 20 Gy in 5 fractions is also allowed in this study, though should be chosen only in patients with a complicated bone metastases by fracture, neurological deficit (e.g. spinal cord compression), or a large soft tissue component. In patients with advanced disease, management strategies focus on improving quality of life (QOL), rather than conventional endpoints such as survival.

Currently, the standard of care in British Columbia for palliative patients with bone metastases is SUPR. In other jurisdictions, however, factors such as physician remuneration make other complex planning techniques more popular.

BC Cancer is publicly funded with no direct costs to patients. All RT in the province is provided by 6 centres where radiation oncologists receive an annual salary, which are independent of RT treatment technique and duration. Due to the lack of financial incentive associated with a more complex RT plan, BC Cancer is a unique clinical setting to assess the use of VMAT versus SUPR.

As facilities providing RT have gained more experience with VMAT and improvements to VMAT planning software have been made, the planning time required has been reduced. Previously, approximately 2 weeks was required for a team at the BC Cancer to create a VMAT plan for a palliative patient with bone metastases; however, we hypothesize this can now be reduced to three days in settings with low dose prescription.

This study will allow the investigators to determine if there is reduced toxicity associated with VMAT compared to SUPR with only a modest impact on resources. The investigators hypothesis is that VMAT will have reduced toxicity compared with SUPR for palliative patients with bone metastases. The investigators also hypothesize that there will be no difference between the two arms in terms of pain response, due to the fact that the doses are equal. This hypothesis is driven by the radiobiologic rationale, which defines effective RT as the ability of radiation to induce tumour cell death while sparing normal cells.

The importance in determining if there is any benefit in terms of toxicity with VMAT compared with SUPR for palliative patients with bone metastases is obvious when consequences related to its adoption are considered. As previously discussed, although the planning time has been drastically reduced, there is still an expected modest increase in resources required to carry out a VMAT plan. For patients, the pre-treatment process of VMAT is more burdensome, i.e. patients have to wait longer before receiving VMAT as compared to SUPR, due to the increased plan complexity. Therefore, it is important to consider the patient experience in relation to the RT administration.

In summary, evidence that either supports or refutes the hypothesis that VMAT will have reduced toxicity compared with SUPR for patients with bone metastases will be helpful in guiding future practices. We are not aware of any other randomized control trials (completed or ongoing) that have addressed this issue, though a London Ontario study is randomizing patients receiving palliative lung RT to SUPR vs VMAT. Due to the implications of VMAT on departmental resources and patient experience, better evidence from a randomized control trial is required before the widespread use of this technique can be justified.

Condition Neoplasm Metastasis, Neoplastic Processes, Neoplasms, Pathologic Processes
Treatment VMAT, SUPR
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03694015
SponsorBritish Columbia Cancer Agency
Last Modified on22 April 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Age 18 or older
Able to provide informed consent
Clinical diagnosis of cancer with bone metastases (biopsy not required)
Currently being managed with palliative intent RT to 1-3 RT fields for bone metastases, at least one RT field (PTV) must (at least) partly lie within T11-L5 or pelvis
ECOG Performance Status 0-3
Patient has been determined to potentially benefit from 8 Gy or 20 Gy
Radiation Oncologist is comfortable prescribing 8 Gy in 1 fraction or 20 Gy in 5 fractions RT for bone metastases
Negative pregnancy test result for women of child-bearing potential
The baseline assessment must be completed within required timelines, prior to randomization
Patients must be accessible for treatment and follow-up. Investigators must assure themselves the patients randomized on this trial will be available for complete documentation of the treatment, adverse events, and follow-up
For simplicity of planning, expected GTV should be less than 20 cm based on radiological or clinical evidence
Patient must be prescribed a 5-HT3 receptor antagonist (e.g. Ondansetron) as antiemetic prophylaxis prior to RT start

Exclusion Criteria

Serious medical co-morbidities precluding radiotherapy
Clinical evidence of spinal cord compression
Spinal cord in treatment field has already received at least >30 Gy EQD2
Whole brain radiotherapy within 4 weeks of RT start
Solitary plasmacytoma
Pregnant or lactating women
Target volume cannot be encompassed by a single VMAT isocentre
Custom mould room requirements (shells and other immobilization that is standard-of-care is acceptable)
Greater than two organs-at-risk requiring optimization
Patients requiring treatments outside standard clinical hours
Implanted electronic device within 10 cm of the RT fields
Prostheses in the axial plane of the target, or within 1 cm of the PTV out-of-plane
Previous RT that requires an analysis of cumulative dose (i.e. sum plans or EQD2 calculations)
Oral or IV contrast if the local standard-of-care requires compensation for this in planning
Clear my responses

How to participate?

Step 1 Connect with a study center
What happens next?
  • You can expect the study team to contact you via email or phone in the next few days.
  • Sign up as volunteer  to help accelerate the development of new treatments and to get notified about similar trials.

You are contacting

Investigator Avatar

Primary Contact


Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

Learn more

If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

Learn more

Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

Learn more

Similar trials to consider


Browse trials for

Not finding what you're looking for?

Every year hundreds of thousands of volunteers step forward to participate in research. Sign up as a volunteer and receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.

Sign up as volunteer

user name

Added by • 



Reply by • Private

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Ipsa vel nobis alias. Quae eveniet velit voluptate quo doloribus maxime et dicta in sequi, corporis quod. Ea, dolor eius? Dolore, vel!

  The passcode will expire in None.

No annotations made yet

Add a private note
  • abc Select a piece of text from the left.
  • Add notes visible only to you.
  • Send it to people through a passcode protected link.
Add a private note