Symptom response after palliative radiotherapy for patients with brain metastases

Eur J Cancer. 2002 Mar;38(4):487-96. doi: 10.1016/s0959-8049(01)00150-2.


Whole brain radiotherapy (RT) is frequently used to palliate symptoms in patients with brain metastases, but the palliative benefit to patients has not been well documented. We conducted a longitudinal observational prospective study of patients receiving standard RT (20 Gray (Gy)/5 fractions) for symptomatic brain metastases. End-points were observer rating of neurological symptoms, patient-rated symptoms, performance status, neurological functional status, cognitive function and quality of life (QOL). Median survival for the 75 patients was 86 days (95% confidence interval (CI): 65-101 days). At 1 month, 19% of patients showed an improvement or resolution of presenting symptoms, 23% were stable and 55% had progressed or died. Patient-rated symptoms were increased at 1 month in comparison to baseline data. Only 4 patients had an improved performance status and 22 were stable. Many patients with brain metastases have a short life expectancy and may not benefit from even short duration radiation schedules. Further effort is needed to optimise patient selection and tailor treatment appropriately.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cranial Irradiation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome