Background: Patients with spinal metastasis from cancer of unknown primary origin have limited life expectancy and poor quality of life. Surgery and radiation therapy remain the main treatment options, but, to our knowledge, there are limited data concerning quality-of-life improvement after surgery and radiation therapy and even fewer data on whether surgical intervention would affect quality of life.
Methods: Patients were enrolled between January 2009 and January 2014 at the Changzheng Hospital, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China. The quality of life of 2 patient groups (one group that underwent surgery followed by postoperative radiation therapy and one group that underwent radiation therapy only) was assessed by the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General (FACT-G) questionnaire during a 6-month period. A subgroup analysis of quality of life was performed to compare different surgical strategies in the surgical group.
Results: A total of 287 patients, including 191 patients in the group that underwent surgery and 96 patients in the group that underwent radiation therapy only, were enrolled in the prospective study; 177 patients completed all 5 checkpoints and 110 patients had died by the final checkpoint. The surgery group had significantly higher adjusted quality-of-life scores than the radiation therapy group in each domain of the FACT-G questionnaire (all p < 0.05). Subgroup analysis showed that adjusted functional and physical well-being scores were higher in the circumferential surgical decompression group.
Conclusions: Surgery followed by postoperative radiation therapy improved and maintained quality of life in patients with spinal metastasis from cancer of unknown primary origin in the 6-month assessment. In terms of surgical strategies, circumferential decompression seems better than laminectomy alone in quality-of-life improvement.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level II. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
1Departments of Orthopaedic Oncology (Y.M., S.H., T.L., X.Y., J.Z., W.X., and J.X.), Pathology (H.Y.), and Human Resources (J.F.), Changzheng Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China
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* Yifei Ma, MD, Shaohui He, MD, and Tielong Liu, MD, contributed equally to the writing of this article.