Treatments for Brain Metastases

Over the past several decades, emerging technologies have improved the safety and efficacy of treatments for brain metastases.

At UT Southwestern, we are fortunate to have access to the most advanced surgical and radiation technologies. These include:

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery
  • Laser technology
  • Brain-mapping systems

Additionally, the focus of all brain metastases treatments at UT Southwestern is maximal disease control while preserving normal brain function. The Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair is a research entity at the UT Southwestern that specifically investigates brain protection techniques. We are privileged to work closely with these investigators to improve the neurologic function of our patients.

Surgical Treatment

Patients with large brain metastases that are causing neurologic symptoms are best managed with surgery. Using advanced microsurgical techniques to remove these tumors can improve patient outcomes. Additionally, when there is only one brain metastasis, surgical removal can be curative and is often advised.

One of the latest surgical techniques involves the use of lasers to ablate brain metastases. For deep-seated tumors, this can be a useful complement to traditional surgical or radiation therapies. UT Southwestern is the only neurosurgical program in the Dallas-Fort Worth area offering this treatment. The latest laser technology allows us to focus an MRI-guided laser on the target area and destroy (ablate) the tumor tissue while preserving the healthy tissue around it. We use both the Visualase and NeuroBlate laser technology for the procedure.

Radiation Therapy

The mainstay of treatment for brain metastases is radiation therapy. Because most brain metastases do not require surgery and most chemotherapies do not cross into the brain, we rely heavily on radiation therapy to treat these tumors.

Previous techniques involved treating the whole brain with radiation, but this treatment delivered a less effective dose to the tumor and had significant side effects. At UT Southwestern, we’re able to avoid whole-brain radiation when it’s not desirable because we have the only Gamma Knife Perfexion machine in North Texas.

This radiation device was designed specifically for the treatment of brain metastases and delivers high doses of radiation only to the tumor while sparing all of the normal brain. This results in much better tumor control and no cognitive dysfunction.