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Whole brain radiation increases risk of learning and memory problems in cancer patients
Date:9/22/2008

BOSTON - Cancer patients who receive stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT) for the treatment of metastatic brain tumors have more than twice the risk of developing learning and memory problems than those treated with SRS alone, according to new research from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The findings of the phase III randomized trial were presented at today's 50th annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.

Led by Eric L. Chang, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at M. D. Anderson, the study offers greater context to the ongoing debate among oncologists about how best to manage the treatment of cancer patients with one to three brain metastases.

The American Cancer Society estimates approximately 170,000 cancer patients will experience metastases to the brain from common primary cancers such as breast, colorectal, kidney and lung in 2008. More than 80,000 of those patients will have between one and three brain metastases.

Over the last decade, SRS, which uses high-doses of targeted x-rays, has gained acceptance as an initial treatment for tumors that have spread to the brain. SRS is also commonly used in combination with WBRT, radiation of the entire brain, to treat tumors that are visible and those that may not be detected by diagnostic imaging.

"Determining how to optimize outcomes with the smallest cost to the quality of life is a treatment decision every radiation oncologist faces," said Chang. "While both approaches are in practice and both are equally acceptable, data from this trial suggest that oncologists should offer SRS alone as the upfront, initial therapy for patients with up to three brain metastases."

The seven year study observed 58 patients presenting with one to three newly diagnosed brain metastases who were randomized to receive SRS followed by WBRT or S
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Contact: Lindsay Anderson
lindsay.anderson@gabbe.com
212-220-4444
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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