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The role of surgical resection in patients with brain metastases

Carapella, Carmine M.a; Gorgoglione, Nicolab; Oppido, Piero Andreaa

doi: 10.1097/CCO.0000000000000484

Purpose of review Treatment of brain metastases represent a critical issue and different options have to be considered according to patients and tumour characteristics; in recent years, new therapeutic strategies have been proposed. In this review, we discuss the role of surgical resection on the basis of patient selection, new surgical techniques and the use of intraoperative adjuncts. The integration with postoperative whole brain radiotherapy will be also outlined because alternative treatment options are currently available.

Recent findings Surgical removal has been considered the mainstay in the treatment of brain metastases, in selected patients, with limited number of intracranial lesions and controlled primary disease, mainly in combination with whole brain radiotherapy. In the last few years, the increasing role of stereotactic focal radiotherapy has deeply modified the indications to open surgical procedures and whole brain radiotherapy.

Summary The appearance of brain metastases is considered a sign of bad prognosis. Treatment of these lesions is important for quality of life, providing local tumour control, preventing death from neurological causes and improving survival, although potentially only in a minority of patients. Careful patient selection, with adequate evaluation of clinical prognostic score, the use of appropriate surgical techniques and surgical adjuncts are major determinants of favourable outcome in patients undergoing resection of brain metastases.

aDivision of Neurosurgery, Regina Elena National Cancer Institute, IRCCS, Rome

bDivision of Neurosurgery, University of Messina, Messina, Italy

Correspondence to Carmine M. Carapella, MD, Division of Neurosurgery, Regina Elena National Cancer Institute - IRCCS, Via E. Chianesi, 53 - 00144 Rome, Italy. Tel: +39 065266 2721 5595; fax: +39 065266 6144; e-mail:

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