Context.— For the treatment of a single metastasis to the brain, surgical resection
combined with postoperative radiotherapy is more effective than treatment
with radiotherapy alone. However, the efficacy of postoperative radiotherapy
after complete surgical resection has not been established.
Objective.— To determine if postoperative radiotherapy resulted in improved neurologic
control of disease and increased survival.
Design.— Multicenter, randomized, parallel group trial.
Setting.— University-affiliated cancer treatment facilities.
Patients.— Ninety-five patients who had single metastases to the brain that were
treated with complete surgical resections (as verified by postoperative magnetic
resonance imaging) between September 1989 and November 1997 were entered into
Interventions.— Patients were randomly assigned to treatment with postoperative whole-brain
radiotherapy (radiotherapy group, 49 patients) or no further treatment (observation
group, 46 patients) for the brain metastasis, with median follow-up of 48
weeks and 43 weeks, respectively.
Main Outcome Measures.— The primary end point was recurrence of tumor in the brain; secondary
end points were length of survival, cause of death, and preservation of ability
to function independently.
Results.— Recurrence of tumor anywhere in the brain was less frequent in the radiotherapy
group than in the observation group (9 [18%] of 49 vs 32 [70%] of 46; P<.001). Postoperative radiotherapy prevented brain
recurrence at the site of the original metastasis (5 [10%] of 49 vs 21 [46%]
of 46; P<.001) and at other sites in the brain
(7 [14%] of 49 vs 17 [37%] of 46; P <.01). Patients
in the radiotherapy group were less likely to die of neurologic causes than
patients in the observation group (6 [14%] of 43 who died vs 17 [44%] of 39; P =.003). There was no significant difference between the
2 groups in overall length of survival or the length of time that patients
remained functionally independent.
Conclusions.— Patients with cancer and single metastases to the brain who receive
treatment with surgical resection and postoperative radiotherapy have fewer
recurrences of cancer in the brain and are less likely to die of neurologic
causes than similar patients treated with surgical resection alone.