Strontium-89 chloride (metastron) for palliative treatment of bony metastases: The University of Minnesota experience

Chung K. Lee, Dorothee M. Aeppli, Judy Unger, Robert J. Boudreau, Seymour H. Levitt

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41 Scopus citations


Strontium-89 chloride (Metastron) is an FDA-approved treatment for palliation of cancer pain. We evaluated blood count changes and pain relief in 28 patients with widespread painful bony metastasis treated with strontium-89 at the University of Minnesota Hospital and Clinics. Eighteen patients had prostate cancer (all hormone-refractory cancer), seven patients had breast cancer, and three patients had lung cancer, all previously treated with either radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of the two. Serial blood counts were performed weekly up to 8 weeks and at 12 weeks after administering Metastron. Pain scale and blood values were monitored simultaneously. The mean baselines of hemoglobin (Hgb), white blood count (WBC), and platelets (Plts) were 11.4, 5900, and 258,000, respectively. The mean dose of Metastron was 3 mCi (range 2.2-4.4). The median time (range) to nadir was about 6 weeks. The percentage reductions relative to baseline were 32% (range 0-72%) for WBC; 14% (range 0-50%) for Hgb; 15% (range 0-47%) for the red blood cell (RBC) count; and 40% (range 0-85%) for Plts. We did not find a close relationship among the baseline blood count, reduction of subsequent blood counts, or previously irradiated active bone marrow volume. The median time of survival was 23 weeks (range 2-66 weeks). At 12 weeks, 29% of patients had moderate to dramatic improvement of pain, 32% had some relief of pain, and 50% had no improvement in pain. Thirty-two percent of the treated patients required additional palliative external beam radiation to their bony lesions within the study period. Our results show that Metastron for palliation for bony metastases should be used with caution because of moderate to severe bone marrow toxicity, especially in platelets, associated with its use. Careful evaluation of patients given Metastron is needed to assess accurately its full benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-107
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Oncology: Cancer Clinical Trials
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 1996


  • Bony metastases
  • Palliation
  • Strontium-89 chloride


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