Stereotactic Radiosurgery May Be Best for Patients with Metastatic Brain Tumors

A recent study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, an international peer-reviewed medical journal, found that patients with three or fewer metastatic brain tumors who received treatment with stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) had less cognitive deterioration three months after treatment than patients who received SRS combined with whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT). 

For the federally funded, Mayo Clinic-led, multi-institution study, researchers enrolled 213 patients between February 2002 and December 2013, and randomly assigned them to treatment with SRS alone (111) or SRS followed by WBRT (102).  Researchers found less cognitive deterioration at three months in patients treated with SRS alone.  Quality of life (QOL) was also higher at three months among patients treated with SRS alone.  There was no significant difference in functional independence at three months between treatment groups.  Median overall survival was 10.4 months for patients treated with SRS alone and 7.4 months for patients treated with SRS and WBRT. 

“Metastatic brain tumors are unfortunately common in patients with cancer,” says Paul Brown, M.D., a radiation oncologist at Mayo Clinic and the lead author of the study.  “This is the first large-scale clinical trial to evaluate this patient population with a comprehensive battery of cognitive and QOL instruments.  WBRT has often been offered early in the disease course for patients with metastatic brain tumors, but, because of this trial, we know the negative impact of WBRT on both quality of life and cognitive function is significant.  With these trial findings, we expect practice will shift, reserving WBRT for patients with more extensive disease in the brain.” 

The CyberKnife Center of Chicago treats metastatic brain tumors with stereotactic radiosurgery using the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System.  CyberKnife painlessly delivers precise beams of high-dose radiation to metastatic brain tumors without incisions, hospitalization, or long recovery time.  To learn more about how CyberKnife treats metastatic brain tumors, as well as other metastatic cancers, please click here.