Stereotactic Radiosurgery Versus Microsurgical Resection for the Initial Treatment of Metastatic Cancer to the Brain

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The use of Stereotactic radiosurgery for the treatment of intracranial metastases from systemic cancer has grown considerably in the last few years. Review of the literature, however, reveals a paucity of well-controlled studies to substantiate this expansion. We conducted this study to address the issue of survival after treatment with either stereotactic radiosurgery or surgical resection. Whole brain radiation was instituted in both treatment arms. This was a retrospective, case-controlled study comparing patients whose only treatment for intracranial disease was either stereotactic radio-surgery or a single surgical resection. Controlling for age, histology, whole brain radiation, tumor size, number of intracranial lesions, and pre-procedural Karnofsky performance scores, we believe this study to be the most rigorous analysis to date. Patients in the radiosurgery group survived longer (median survival = 12.5 months) than those in the surgically resected group (median survival = 8 months). Statistical analysis of these curves did not show a significant difference. Considering only length of patient survival, there is no statistical difference between stereotactic radiosurgery and microsurgical resection for the treatment of new brain metastases from systemic cancer. This conclusion is based on strict criteria as outlined in the text. A larger, prospective, randomized investigation is needed to more definitively address the issue.

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