Current management of metastatic brain disease.
Brain metastases are the most common intracranial tumor in adults. The incidence of metastases is thought to be rising due to better detection and treatment of systemic malignancy. More widespread use and improved quality of MRI may lead to early detection of brain metastases. Available evidence suggests that survival is longer and quality of life improved if brain metastases are treated aggressively. This article reviews current therapeutic management used for brain metastases. To select the appropriate therapy, the physician must consider the extent of the systemic disease, primary histology, and patient age and performance status, as well as the number, size, and location of the brain metastases. Available treatment options include whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT), stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), surgery, and chemotherapy. Multidisciplinary approaches such as the combination of WBRT with SRS or surgery have shown superior results in terms of survival time, neurocognitive function, and quality of life. The utility and optimal use of chemotherapy and radiosensitizing agents is less clear. It is hoped that further advances and multidisciplinary approaches currently under study will result in improved patient outcomes.
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