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Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2015:e99-104. doi: 10.14694/EdBook_AM.2015.35.e99.

Whole-brain radiotherapy and stereotactic radiosurgery in brain metastases: what is the evidence?

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From the Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD; Burkhardt Brain Tumor Neuro-Oncology Center, Neurological Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH.


The overall local treatment paradigm of brain metastases, which includes whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), continues to evolve. Local therapies play an important role in the management of brain metastases. The choice of local therapy depends on factors that involve the patient (performance status, expected survival, and age), the prior treatment history, and the tumor (type and subtype, number, size, location of metastases, and extracranial disease status). Multidisciplinary collaboration is required to facilitate an individualized plan to improve the outcome of disease in patients with this life-limiting complication. There has been concern about the neurocognitive effects of WBRT. A number of approaches that mitigate cognitive dysfunction, such as pharmacologic intervention (memantine) or a hippocampal-sparing strategy, have been studied in a prospective manner with WBRT. Although there has been an increase in the use of SRS in the management of brain metastases in recent years, WBRT retains an important therapeutic role.

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