Quality of life among patients with 4 to 10 brain metastases after treatment with whole-brain radiotherapy vs. stereotactic radiotherapy: a phase III, randomized, Dutch multicenter trial

Dianne Hartgerink, Anna Bruynzeel, Danielle Eekers, Ans Swinnen, Coen Hurkmans, Ruud Wiggenraad, Annemarie Swaak-Kragten, Edith Dieleman, Peter-Paul van der Toorn, Lieneke van Veelen, Joost J. C. Verhoeff, Frank Lagerwaard, Dirk de Ruysscher, Philippe Lambin, Jaap Zindler

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Background: Stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) is an attractive treatment option for patients with brain metastases (BM), sparing healthy brain tissue and likely controlling local tumors. Most previous studies have focused on radiological response or survival. Our randomized trial (NCT02353000) investigated whether quality of life (QoL) is better preserved using SRT than whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) for patients with multiple BM. Recently, we published our trial’s primary endpoints. The current report discusses the study’s secondary endpoints. Methods: Patients with 4 to 10 BM were randomly assigned to a standard-arm WBRT (20 Gy in 5 fractions) or SRT group (1 fraction of 15–24 Gy or 3 fractions of 8 Gy). QoL endpoints—such as EQ5D domains post-treatment, the Barthel index, the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) questionnaires, and the neurocognitive Hopkins Verbal Learning Test—were evaluated. Results: Due to poor accrual resulting from patients’ and referrers’ preference for SRT, this study closed prematurely. The other endpoints’ results were published recently. Twenty patients were available for analysis (n=10 vs. n=10 for the two groups, respectively). Significant differences were observed 3 months post-treatment for the mobility (P=0.041), self-care (P=0.028), and alopecia (P=0.014) EQ5D domains, favoring SRT. This self-care score also persisted compared to the baseline (P=0.025). Multiple EORTC categories reflected significant differences, favoring SRT—particularly physical functioning and social functioning. Conclusions: For patients with multiple BM, SRT alone led to persistently higher QoL than treatment with WBRT. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02353000.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1197-1209
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of Palliative Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • Brain metastases (BM)
  • palliative treatment
  • quality of life (QoL)
  • randomized controlled trial
  • stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT)

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