DEGRO practical guidelines for palliative radiotherapy of breast cancer patients: Brain metastases and leptomeningeal carcinomatosis

Petra Feyer*, Marie Luise Sautter-Bihl, Wilfried Budachs, Jürgen Dunst, Wulf Haase, Wolfgang Harms, Felix Sedlmayer, Rainer Souchon, Frederik Wenz, Rolf Sauer

*Corresponding author for this work
38 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To provide recommendations for palliative treatment of brain metastases (BM) and leptomeningeal carcinomatosis (LC) in breast cancer patients with specific emphasis on radiooncologic aspects. Methods: The breast cancer expert panel of the German Society of Radiation Oncology (DEGRO) performed a comprehensive survey of the literature comprising national and international guidelines, lately published randomized trials, and relevant retrospective analyses. The search included publications between 1995-2008 (PubMed and Guidelines International Network [G-I-N]). Recommendations were devised according to the panel's interpretation of the evidence referring to the criteria of EBM. Results: Aim of any treatment of BM and LC is to alleviate symptoms and improve neurologic deficits. Close interdisciplinary cooperation facilitates rapid diagnosis and onset of therapy, tailored to the individual and clinical situation. Treatment decisions for BM should be based on the allocation to three prognostic groups defined by recursive partitioning analysis (RPA). Karnofsky Performance Score (KPS) is the strongest prognostic parameter. Together with the extent of the disease, KPS determines whether excision or radiosurgery/stereotactic radiotherapy is feasible and if exclusive or additional whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) is indicated. With adequate therapy, survival may be up to 3 years. For LC, treatment is mostly indicated for patients with positive cytology or in case of strongly indicative signs and symptoms. Radiotherapy (WBRT and involved-field irradiation of bulky spinal lesions) and chemotherapy (systemically or intrathecally applied methotrexate, thiotepa and cytarabine) are both effective and may prolong survival from several weeks to 4-6 months. Conclusion: Radiotherapy is an effective tool for palliative treatment of BM and LC.

Original languageEnglish
JournalStrahlentherapie und Onkologie
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)63-69
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 01.02.2010


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