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Matthew G. Ewend, David E. Morris, Lisa A. Carey, Alim M. Ladha and Steven Brem

Brain metastases are an increasingly important determinant of survival and quality of life in patients with cancer. Current approaches to the management of brain metastases are driven by prognostic factors, including the Karnofsky Performance Status, tumor histology, number of metastases, patient age, and status of systemic disease. Most brain metastases are treated with radiosurgery, computer-assisted surgery, or whole brain radiation therapy. Remarkable advances in computer-assisted neuronavigation have made neurosurgical removal of metastases safer, even in eloquent areas of the brain. Computerization also enhances the efficacy and safety of conformal radiosurgery planning using various modern stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) technologies, including newer frameless-based systems. Controversial issues include whether to defer whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) in patients undergoing SRS or image-guided surgery and when to use SRS “boost” in a patient undergoing WBRT. The determination of how best to apply these treatments for individual patients cannot be standardized to a single paradigm, but data from well-controlled studies help physicians make informed decisions about the benefits and risks of each approach.