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1.  Dexamethasone for the prevention of a pain flare after palliative radiotherapy for painful bone metastases: a multicenter double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:347.
Radiotherapy has a good effect in palliation of painful bone metastases, with a pain response rate of more than 60%. However, shortly after treatment, in approximately 40% of patients a temporary pain flare occurs, which is defined as a two-point increase of the worst pain score on an 11-point rating scale compared to baseline, without a decrease in analgesic intake, or a 25% increase in analgesic intake without a decrease in worst pain score, compared to baseline. A pain flare has a negative impact on daily functioning and mood of patients. It is thought to be caused by periostial edema after radiotherapy. Dexamethasone might diminish this edema and thereby reduce the incidence of pain flare. Two non-randomized studies suggest that dexamethasone reduces the incidence of a pain flare by 50%. The aim of this trial is to study the effectiveness of dexamethasone to prevent a pain flare after palliative radiotherapy for painful bone metastases and to determine the optimal dose schedule.
Methods and design
This study is a three-armed, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter trial. We aim to include 411 patients with uncomplicated painful bone metastases from any type of primary solid tumor who receive short schedule radiotherapy (all conventional treatment schedules from one to six fractions). Arm 1 consists of daily placebo for four days, arm 2 starts with 8 mg dexamethasone before the (first) radiotherapy and three days placebo thereafter. Arm 3 consists of four days 8 mg dexamethasone. The primary endpoint is the occurrence of a pain flare. Secondary endpoints are pain, quality of life and side-effects of dexamethasone versus placebo. Patients complete a questionnaire (Brief Pain Inventory with two added questions about side-effects of medication, the EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL and QLQ-BM22 for quality of life) at baseline, daily for two weeks and lastly at four weeks.
This study will show whether dexamethasone is effective in preventing a pain flare after palliative radiotherapy for painful bone metastases and, if so, to determine the optimal dose.
Trial registration
This study is registered at NCT01669499
PMCID: PMC4031326  PMID: 24885354
Pain flare; Palliative radiotherapy; Dexamethasone; Bone metastases
2.  SUBMIT: Systemic therapy with or without up front surgery of the primary tumor in breast cancer patients with distant metastases at initial presentation 
BMC Surgery  2012;12:5.
Five percent of all patients with breast cancer have distant metastatic disease at initial presentation. Because metastatic breast cancer is considered to be an incurable disease, it is generally treated with a palliative intent. Recent non-randomized studies have demonstrated that (complete) resection of the primary tumor is associated with a significant improvement of the survival of patients with primary metastatic breast cancer. However, other studies have suggested that the claimed survival benefit by surgery may be caused by selection bias. Therefore, a randomized controlled trial will be performed to assess whether breast surgery in patients with primary distant metastatic breast cancer will improve the prognosis.
Randomization will take place after the diagnosis of primary distant metastatic breast cancer. Patients will either be randomized to up front surgery of the breast tumor followed by systemic therapy or to systemic therapy, followed by delayed local treatment of the breast tumor if clinically indicated.
Patients with primary distant metastatic breast cancer, with no prior treatment of the breast cancer, who are 18 years or older and fit enough to undergo surgery and systemic therapy are eligible. Important exclusion criteria are: prior invasive breast cancer, surgical treatment or radiotherapy of this breast tumor before randomization, irresectable T4 tumor and synchronous bilateral breast cancer. The primary endpoint is 2-year survival. Quality of life and local tumor control are among the secondary endpoints.
Based on the results of prior research it was calculated that 258 patients are needed in each treatment arm, assuming a power of 80%. Total accrual time is expected to take 60 months. An interim analysis will be performed to assess any clinically significant safety concerns and to determine whether there is evidence that up front surgery is clinically or statistically inferior to systemic therapy with respect to the primary endpoint.
The SUBMIT study is a randomized controlled trial that will provide evidence on whether or not surgery of the primary tumor in breast cancer patients with metastatic disease at initial presentation results in an improved survival.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3348008  PMID: 22469291
Primary metastatic breast cancer; surgery; randomised controlled trial

Results 1-2 (2)