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CHICAGO -- A new study presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology suggests that the practice should be reconsidered. More than 650,000 patients a year in the U.S. are diagnosed and treated for cancers that spread to the brain. For about 200,000 of these patients, those with 1-3 small brain metastases, a combination of whole brain radiation therapy and radiosurgery, a highly focused form of radiation therapy, have been the standard of care.
While whole brain radiation therapy improves tumor control it did not improve survival and it was shown to have deleterious effects on patients cognitive abilities. “This is the classic question: Which is worse, the disease or the treatment,?” said Jan Buckner, M.D., an oncologist at Mayo Clinic and senior author of the study. “We used to offer whole brain radiation early on, but we now know that the toxicities of this therapy are worse for the patients than the cancer growth or recurrences in the brain. We expect that practice will shift to reserve the use of whole brain radiation therapy for salvage therapy (used when cancer will not respond to other therapies) and in end-stage palliative care.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Joe Dangor, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005