Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial to see if radiotherapy is needed after surgery or radiosurgery to treat cancer that has spread to the brain (EORTC 22952-26001)
Cancer can spread from one part of the body to another. This is called ‘metastases’, or secondary cancer. One place that cancer can spread to is the brain. If this happens, doctors can sometimes remove the area of cancer with surgery or radiosurgery. But there may be areas of cancer in the brain that are too small to see or that the surgeon can’t remove safely. So some people have radiotherapy to their whole brain after their operation.
But doctors were not sure if this extra radiotherapy would be helpful or not. Whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) does have side effects, and it is important that patients don’t have treatments that don’t help.
The aims of this trial were to find out
- How well whole brain radiotherapy worked after surgery or radiosurgery for cancer that has spread to the brain
- More about the side effects of whole brain radiotherapy after surgery or radiosurgery
Summary of results
The trial team found that having whole brain radiotherapy after surgery or radiosurgery decreased the number of times that the cancer (metastatses) came back in the brain. But did not increase the time you are able to continue to do things for yourself.
Of the people who had surgery or radiosurgery to remove cancer spread to the brain, half then had whole brain radiotherapy. The other half didn’t. Those who did not have whole brain radiotherapy were no longer able to look after themselves without help after an average of 10 months. Those who had whole brain radiotherapy were no longer able to look after themselves after an average of 9 and a half months.
The survival time for both groups on average, was over 10 months.
The researchers concluded that whole brain radiotherapy reduced the number of times that cancer came back in the brain after treatment, but did not increase the length of time that people could look after themselves.
The trial team are not doing any further follow up.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.
Prof RP Mueller (EORTC Clinical Coordinator)
Dr R Soffietti (EORTC Clinical Coordinator)
Professor Michael Brada (Chief Investigator in the UK)
European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)