Innovations in the Treatment
of Brain Metastases
Treatment for brain metastases was once limited to whole-brain radiotherapy. With new options like the Novalis® tx™ stereotactic radiosurgery available at Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, physicians can now achieve better outcomes—which is excellent news for the estimated 170,000 Americans diagnosed with brain metastases every year.
According to George Cheng, MD, PhD, radiation oncologist with Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, approximately 20 to 40 percent of patients with cancer will develop brain metastases. Although brain metastases most commonly develop from lung cancer, they also can originate from melanomas or tumor sites in the breasts, kidneys or colon.
“Brain metastases are the most common intracranial tumors in adults, with a ten-fold higher incidence than primary brain tumors,” says Dr. Cheng. “However, the condition may become less common as the efficacy of systemic therapies improves.”
When brain metastases are detected, patients without a previous cancer diagnosis may require a biopsy of the brain lesion to rule out other malignant and non-malignant etiologies. A treatment plan will be tailored to meet each patient’s individual needs based on factors that can include age; overall health and performance; the extent of systemic disease; and the number, size and location of the tumors.
“For patients diagnosed with brain metastases, a referral to a specialized facility such as the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara should be considered to utilize the latest diagnostic and therapeutic technologies and expertise in medical oncology, neurosurgery and radiation oncology,” says Dr. Cheng. “Because the selection of treatment strategy can be multifactorial, a multidisciplinary approach is important.”
Advanced Treatment Options
For the majority of patients with brain metastases, radiotherapy in some form is a large part of effective treatment.
“In a case of single metastasis, the treatment plan may include surgical resection followed by whole-brain radiotherapy—or whole-brain radiotherapy