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Medical and health economic assessment of radiosurgery for the treatment of brain metastasis

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Background: Radiotherapy for patients suffering from malignant neoplasms has developed greatly during the past decades. Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is one important radiotherapeutic option which is defined by a single and highly focussed application of radiation during a specified time interval. One of its important indications is the treatment of brain metastases. Objectives: The objective of this HTA is to summarise the current literature concerning the treatment of brain metastasis and to compare SRS as a single or additional treatment option to alternative treatment options with regard to their medical effectiveness/efficacy, safety and cost-effectiveness as well as their ethical, social and legal implications. Methods: A structured search and hand search of identified literature are performed from January 2002 through August 2007 to identify relevant publications published in English or German. Studies targeting patients with single or multiple brain metastases are included. The methodological quality of included studies is assessed according to quality criteria, based on the criteria of evidence based medicine. Results: Of 1,495 publications 15 medical studies meet the inclusion criteria. Overall study quality is limited and with the exception of two randomized controlleed trials (RCT) and two meta-analyses only historical cohort studies are identified. Reported outcome measures are highly variable between studies. Studies with high methodological quality provide evidence, that whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) in addition to SRS and SRS in addition to WBRT is associated with improved local tumour control rates and neurological function. However, only in patients with single brain metastasis, RPA-class 1 (RPA = Recursive partitioning analysis) and certain primary tumour entities, this combination of SRS and WBRT is associated with superior survival compared to WBRT alone. Studies report no significant differences in adverse events between treatment groups. Methodologically less rigorous studies provide no conclusive evidence with regard to medical effectiveness and safety, comparing SRS to WBRT, neurosurgery (NS) or hypofractionated radiotherapy (HCSRT). The quality of life is not investigated in any of the studies. Within the searched databases a total of 320 economic publications are identified. Five publications are eligible for this report. The five reports have a quiet variable quality. Concerning the economic efficiency of alternative equipment, while assuming equal effectiveness, the calculations show, that economic efficiency depends to a


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