Stereotactic Radiosurgery Institute
Brain Metastasis or Brain Metastases Treatment
A Brain Metastasis (pleural Brain Metastases) is a tumor growing in the brain which has spread from Cancer in other parts of the body such as Lung Cancer or Breast Cancer. Depending on the type of cancer that a person has, there is a different chance of devloping Brain Metastases. Brain Metastases are more common with Lung or Breast Cancer, less common with other Cancers such as Colon Cancer, but they can occur with almost any type of cancer a person has.
In the past, when a person was diagnosed with Brain Metastases, they were treated with open surgery, if possible, followed by Whole Brain Radiation Therapy. If and when the Brain Metastases grew back, or new ones developed, open surgery was essentially the only viable option. Typically, open surgery was done if there was only one Brain Metastasis. More Whole Brain Radiation Therapy could not be given effectively bacause the brain can tolerate only so much radiation to the normal parts of the brain. A that point, the patients would succumb to the Brain Metastases.
There are still many doctors who consider this strategy as the standard of care for brain metastases.
Since 1989, however, Dr. Helenowski has treated Brain Metastases on a routine basis since it helped patients live better and live longer. With over 25 years of experience, reviewing scans of every available tumor we treated and following up with the patients clinically, we developed a treatment strategy that works to control Brain Metastases so well our patients rarely succumb to the Brain Metastases. 25 years ago, we were criticized for using Stereotactic Radiosurgery for Brain Metastases by other Radiosurgery Centers. In this day and age, however, basically every Stereotactic Radiosurgery Center in the world treats Brain Metastases.
In our treatment strategy, all Brain Metastases seen are treated with Stereotactic Radiosurgery if possible. The patients are then carefully followed with detailed brain scans at least four to six times per year. Any new Brain Metastases are treated as soon as possible before they can cause symptoms. At that point, since the Brain Metastases are typically small, Radiosurgery is more effective and risks of the procedure are minimzed.
Whole Brain Radiation Therapy is reserved by us for people who develop too many Brain Metastases all at once or if the total tumor burden in the brain is too large. Since Whole Brain Radiation Therapy can be used only once effectively, we do not like to waste its use initially unless it's use is unavoidable. We like to reserve the use of Whole Brain Radiation Therapy for a time when there appears to be a large number of Brain Metastases that occur all at once.
Whole Brain Radiation Therapy is also known to cause memory and concentration problems (similar to Alzheimer's disease symptoms) in a significant fraction of patients that receive it. This is another reason we try to reserve this type of treatment for a time when it appears extremely necessary.
Using our strategy and experience with Brain Metastases, we have found that our patients rarely succumb to the brain metastases. In addition, when the Brain Metastases are treated with Stereotactic Radiosurgery, the patients choices for treatment with innovative Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy are frequently expanded.
Other options for treatment of Brain Metastases can also be considered, however at this time we have found this treatment strategy to be most effective in allowing our patients to Live Better and Live Longer.