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Fox Chase First in Region to Offer Newly FDA Approved Non-Invasive, Non-Ionizing Radiation Therapy to Treat Pain from Bone Metastases

ExAblate® MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound is effective in reducing pain from bone metastases in patients who can not undergo radiation therapy

PHILADELPHIA, PA (November 1, 2012)— Fox Chase Cancer Center is the first center in Pennsylvania to offer the newly U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ExAblate® MRI-guided focused ultrasound as a therapy to treat pain from bone metastases in patients who do not respond or cannot undergo radiation treatment for their pain. This is the second FDA approval for ExAblate, which has been used widely since it was approved in 2004 as a non-invasive, outpatient, therapy for uterine fibroids.  

Bone metastases occur when cancer cells break away from their primary site and spread to other parts of the body.

“Pain is the most common symptom of bone metastases, often causing significant physical and emotional discomfort with a large impact on enjoyment of life,” says Joshua Meyer, MD, attending physician in the Radiation Oncology Department at Fox Chase. “Our experience has shown that pain palliation by ExAblate can dramatically improve the quality of life for cancer patients with bone metastases. Results from the clinical study showed that the therapy significantly reduces pain caused by bone metastases. Patients also reported lasting improvement in well-being and function, along with a decrease in the need for medication for some.”

According to the American Cancer Society, more than two-thirds of breast and prostate cancers that metastasize spread to the bones and this also occurs in up to 30% of metastatic lung, bladder and thyroid cancers. Up to thirty percent of patients with bone metastases either do not respond to radiation therapy or will be unable to undergo radiation for pain relief.

ExAblate combines therapeutic acoustic ultrasound waves and continuous guidance and treatment monitoring with an MRI. Physicians use the MRI to plan and guide the therapy and monitor treatment outcome. The focused ultrasound acoustic energy destroys the nerves causing the pain, resulting in rapid reduction in pain.

The FDA approval for ExAblate was based on the results of an international, multi-center, randomized clinical study comparing patients with painful bone metastases undergoing palliative therapy with ExAblate to a similar group undergoing a placebo therapy.  Patients who underwent the ExAblate therapy reported clinically significant pain relief and improvement of quality-of-life during follow-up three months after treatment. Over 15 centers participated in the clinical trial including Fox Chase Cancer Canter, Stanford University, UCSD, UVA, Moffitt, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the U.S. as well as University of Toronto, La Sapienza University in  Rome, Sheba and Rambam Medical Centers in Israel,  Petrov Research Institute of Oncology and Rostov Medical University in Russia.

ExAblate is the only FDA-approved MRI-guided focused ultrasound system for treating uterine fibroids and bone metastases related pain management. It has won several awards for innovation and its potential for helping mankind, including the Wall Street Journal Innovation Prize and the European Union’s IST grand prize. TIME magazine recently named Focused Ultrasound as “one of 50 best inventions.”


Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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