Cancer patients with tumors that have spread to the brain (brain metastases) who undergo stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and whole brain radiation have more than double the risk of developing learning and memory problems, compared to those who only have stereotactic radiosurgery, according to a study.
“Results of this study show that initial stereotactic radiosurgery alone, coupled with close observation, could become the standard of care for patients newly diagnosed with brain metastases to best preserve their neurocognitive function,” Eric L. Chang, M.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said.
“Results of this study could change the practice of how brain metastases are managed in the United States.”
Stereotactic radiosurgery is a specialized type of external beam radiation therapy that pinpoints high doses of radiation directly on the cancer in a shorter amount of time than traditional treatments (one day, instead of several weeks).
Whole brain radiation therapy treats the visible lumps of the cancer and the invisible tumor deposits that are so small they may not be seen on even a sensitive imaging test. Therefore, the entire brain is treated to try to stop the spread of the tumors.
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