NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People 75 years of age and older with cancer that has spread to the brain respond about as well as younger patients to stereotactic radiosurgery, according to a recent report.
The treatment focuses multiple beams of radiation from different directions on the tumor, so that normal tissues are spared damaging doses.
Several studies have shown that using stereotactic radiosurgery to treat cancer that has metastasized to the brain from other sites improves survival rates, but there has been no detailed study in patients over 65 years old, explain the authors of the report in the medical journal Cancer.
Dr. Se-Hyuk Kim from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio, and colleagues examined the outcomes of a series of 44 patients at least 75 years old with brain metastases treated with stereotactic radiosurgery and followed for up to 2.5 years.
Survival rates were of 86 percent at 3 months, 68 percent at 6 months, 45 percent at 9 months, and 34 percent at 12 months.
Average survival times were longer in patients with a single brain metastasis (10.1 months) than in those with two or more brain metastases (6.6 months), the report indicates.
Some patients who developed a new brain metastasis were successfully treated again with stereotactic radiosurgery.
The treatment in patients aged 75 years and older "has an excellent functional outcome, and provides results that are similar to those noted in younger patients," Kim's team concludes.
"Based on our outcomes," they add, "we will continue to offer stereotactic radiosurgery for patients with brain metastases who are aged 75 years and older."