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Precise Treatments Produce Better Quality of Life for Brain Cancer Patients: Study

Cancer patients with tumors that have spread to the brain tend to fare better when precise surgical interventions are made to address this secondary site. That’s the finding of a recent study that looked at the effects of both whole brain radiotherapy and stereotactic radiosurgery. Researchers ultimately found that patients who underwent the precisely targeted surgical procedure enjoyed a higher quality of life.

The study in question involved analysis of more than 200 patients with an average age of 60. The patients in the study each had between one and three brain metastases. The study subjects were observed over a three-month period after having undergone either whole brain radiotherapy or stereotactic radiosurgery. Previous studies had shown that radiotherapy can produce a reduction in cognitive brain function in patients. The results tend to be slowing of speech and problems with short-term memory.

Over the course of the study, researchers found patients treated with the more precise technique tended to fare better. They displayed less cognitive decline while also showing a higher quality of life. Radiosurgery is designed to deliver a highly targeted dose of radiation directly to a small tumor. The aim is to spare as much surrounding tissue as possible. The procedure calls for the use of a tool like a linear accelerator to ensure as much healthy tissue as possible is spared. Whole brain radiotherapy, however, is capable of treating tumor cells that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

While neither procedure is considered a “cure” for cancer that has spread to the brain, researchers say the findings point to the need to carefully target treatments based on a particular patient’s case. Radiosurgery, when indicated, may help preserve quality of life for those facing such tumors.

People who are diagnosed with metastatic brain tumors are urged to speak with their healthcare providers about all treatment options. Which procedure might make the most sense to pursue will depend on the characteristics unique to the case.



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