Unyielding progress: recent advances in the treatment of central nervous system neoplasms with radiosurgery and radiation therapy

Dale Ding, Chun Po Yen, Robert M. Starke, Cheng Chia Lee, Jason P. Sheehan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In the past decade, our understanding of the roles of external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) in the management of brain tumors has dramatically improved. To highlight the changes and contemporary treatment approaches, we review the indications and outcomes of ionizing radiation for benign intracranial tumors and brain metastases. For nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas, SRS is able to achieve radiographic tumor control in at least 90 % of cases. The rate of SRS-induced endocrine remission for functioning pituitary adenomas depends on the tumor subtype, but it is generally lower than the rate of radiographic tumor control. The most common complications from pituitary adenoma SRS treatment are hypopituitarism and cranial neuropathies. SRS has become the preferred treatment modality for vestibular schwannomas and skull base meningiomas less than 3 cm in size. Large vestibular schwannomas and meningiomas remain best managed with initial surgical resection or EBRT for surgically ineligible patients. For small to moderately sized brain metastases, there has been a shift toward treatment of newly diagnosed patients with SRS alone due to similar local control rates compared with surgical resection. RCTs have shown combined SRS and whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT) for brain metastases to decrease rates of local and distant intracranial recurrence compared to SRS alone. However, the improved intracranial control comes at the expense of poorer neurocognitive outcomes and without prolonging overall survival. Therefore, WBRT is generally reserved for salvage therapy. While EBRT has been frequently supplanted by SRS for the treatment pituitary adenomas and brain metastases, it still proves useful in selected cases of large lesions which are not amenable to surgical debulking or for those with widespread disease, poor performance status, and short life expectancy. In recent years, the scope of SRS has extended beyond the intracranial space to include extradural and intradural spinal tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-529
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of neuro-oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 20 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain neoplasms
  • Neoplasm metastasis
  • Pituitary neoplasms
  • Radiosurgery
  • Radiotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cancer Research


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