Paul, from Western Australia, was treated for plantar fibromatosis on his foot by our GenesisCare practice in Bunbury. While radiotherapy is known for use in cancer treatment, Paul’s condition was benign and radiotherapy was utilised as a non-surgical option to relieve his symptoms and prevent progression of the problem.
There is a growing body of clinical research to demonstrate that radiotherapy is effective in a number of benign proliferative conditions like plantar fibromatosis. Established treatments (such as anti-inflammatories, orthotic and podiatric treatments, steroid injections and physiotherapy) are shown to have variable effectiveness and radiotherapy provides a useful alternative.
Plantar fibromatosis involves thickening of the feet's deep connective tissue, or fascia. When nodules or cords start growing along tendons of the foot, the toes can stiffen and bend, and walking becomes painful. Paul chose radiotherapy for the convenience that it offered over surgery. “I had surgery on the other foot approximately 10 years ago and it severely limited what I could do for some months. So the radiotherapy posed no inconvenience at all.”
Historically, patients have been worried about the side effects of radiotherapy, but Paul described them as negligible. “At worst I would describe the effects as mild sunburn on the sole of my foot.” Paul was able to walk normally on both feet throughout the treatment. It is important to discuss with your radiation oncologist, to understand the rare risk of longer term effects of having radiotherapy.
One year on and Paul is happy with the clinical outcome that radiotherapy has had on the nodules. They have shrunk in size and are less firm. “The smaller nodules may even have been completely eliminated, however an ultrasound would be needed to confirm that.”
“I would definitely consider radiotherapy on the other foot as the nodules are not as pronounced and I feel the effect may be complete elimination.”
Radiotherapy has been under-utilised in the management of benign proliferative and inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions where other measures have proved ineffective. This is in part due to access and availability of radiotherapy; as well as awareness of it as an option in difficult cases. Several international bodies have guidelines for the use of radiotherapy for these conditions, which are available to the public here.
GenesisCare is now offering radiotherapy treatment for benign conditions at selected practices across Australia. For more information click here.