Radiation therapy for melanoma brain metastases: A systematic review
Background. Radiation therapy (RT) for melanoma brain metastases, delivered either as whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT) or as stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), is an established component of treatment for this condition. However, evidence allowing comparison of the outcomes, advantages and disadvantages of the two RT modalities is scant, with very few randomized controlled trials having been conducted. This has led to considerable uncertainty and inconsistent guideline recommendations. The present systematic review identified 112 studies reporting outcomes for patients with melanoma brain metastases treated with RT. Three were randomized controlled trials but only one was of sufficient size to be considered informative. Most of the evidence was from non-randomized studies, either specific treatment series or disease cohorts. Criteria for determining treatment choice were reported in only 32 studies and the quality of these studies was variable. From the time of diagnosis of brain metastasis, the median survival after WBRT alone was 3.5 months (IQR 2.4-4.0 months) and for SRS alone it was 7.5 months (IQR 6.7-9.0 months). Overall patient survival increased over time (pre-1989 to 2015) but this was not apparent within specific treatment groups.
Conclusions. These survival estimates provide a baseline for determining the incremental benefits of recently introduced systemic treatments using targeted therapy or immunotherapy for melanoma brain metastases.
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