Send to

Choose Destination
Support Care Cancer. 2013 Dec;21(12):3379-86. doi: 10.1007/s00520-013-1917-1. Epub 2013 Aug 10.

Managing brain metastases patients with and without radiotherapy: initial lessonsfrom a team-based consult service through a multidisciplinary integrated palliative oncology clinic.

Author information

Department of Nursing, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Alberta Health Services Cancer Care, Calgary, Canada.



A new ambulatory consultative clinic with integrated assessments by palliative care, radiation oncology, and allied health professionals was introduced to (1) assess patients with brain metastases at a regional comprehensive cancer center and (2) inform and guide patients on management strategies, including palliative radiotherapy, symptom control, and end-of-life care issues. We conducted a quality assurance study to inform clinical program development.


Between January 2011 and May 2012, 100 consecutive brain metastases patients referred and assessed through a multidisciplinary clinic were evaluated for baseline characteristics, radiotherapy use, and supportive care decisions. Overall survival was examined by known prognostic groups. Proportion of patients receiving end-of-life radiotherapy (death within 30 and 14 days of brain radiotherapy) was used as a quality metric.


The median age was 65 years, with non-small cell lung cancer (n = 38) and breast cancer (n = 23) being the most common primary cancers. At least 57 patients were engaged in advance care planning discussions at first consult visit. In total, 75 patients eventually underwent brain radiotherapy, whereas 25 did not. The most common reasons for nonradiotherapy management were patient preference and rapid clinical deterioration. Overall survival for prognostic subgroups was consistent with literature reports. End-of-life brain radiotherapy was observed in 9 % (death within 30 days) and 1 % (within 14 days) of treated patients.


By integrating palliative care expertise to address the complex needs of patients with newly diagnosed brain metastases, end-of-life radiotherapy use appears acceptable and improved over historical rates at our institution. An appreciable proportion of patients are not suitable for palliative brain radiotherapy or opt against this treatment option, but the team approach involving nurses, palliative care experts, allied health, and clinical oncologists facilitates patient-centered decision making and transition to end-of-life care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center