• brain metastases;
  • stereotactic radiosurgery;
  • whole brain radiotherapy;
  • meta-analysis;
  • neurocognition



To perform a meta-analysis on newly diagnosed brain metastases patients treated with whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) boost versus WBRT alone, or in patients treated with SRS alone versus WBRT and SRS boost.


The meta-analysis primary outcomes were overall survival (OS), local control (LC), and distant brain control (DBC). Secondary outcomes were neurocognition, quality of life (QOL), and toxicity. Using published Kaplan-Meier curves, results were pooled using hazard ratios (HR).


Two RCTs reported on WBRT and SRS boost versus WBRT alone. For multiple brain metastases (2-4 tumors) we conclude no difference in OS, and LC significantly favored WBRT plus SRS boost. Three RCTs reported on SRS alone versus WBRT plus SRS boost (1-4 tumors). There was no difference in OS despite both LC and DBC significantly favoring WBRT plus SRS boost. Although secondary endpoints could not be pooled for meta-analysis, those RCTs evaluating SRS alone conclude better neurocognition using the validated Hopkins Verbal Learning Test, no adverse risk in deteriorating Mini-Mental Status Exam scores or in maintaining performance status, and fewer late toxicities. We conclude insufficient data for QOL outcomes.


For selected patients, we conclude no OS benefit for WBRT plus SRS boost compared with SRS alone. Although additional WBRT improves DBC and LC, SRS alone should be considered a routine treatment option due to favorable neurocognitive outcomes, less risk of late side effects, and does not adversely affect the patients performance status. Cancer 2012. © 2011 American Cancer Society.