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AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 1, 2017

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Study Finds Growing Socioeconomic and Racial Disparities in Management of Brain Metastases

A new study in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network highlights the need to improve access to care for minority and lower-income populations

Increasing use of a potentially life-saving treatment for metastatic cancer is leaving too many vulnerable patients behind, according to a new study from Yale Cancer Center/Smilow Cancer Hospital. The researchers looked into use of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) following radiotherapy (RT) to treat brain metastases in patients with melanoma, lung, breast, or colorectal cancers. They found that the use of SRS has increased dramatically, but unevenly, in recent years.

“The upfront costs, infrastructure, and multidisciplinary expertise needed for SRS delivery compared with traditional whole-brain radiation may be contributing to racial and socioeconomic barriers to access,” according to lead researcher, Benjamin H. Kann, MD, Yale University School of Medicine. “Investment in a dedicated radiosurgery system, whether using Gamma Knife Radiosurgery or linear accelerator-based modifications, can cost several millions of dollars upfront. Additionally, physician, physicist, and therapist training is required, which involves time commitment and often off-site course attendance.”

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