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According to an article in Clinical Cancer Research, the addition of Gliadel® Wafer (carmustine polymer wafer) to surgery plus external beam radiotherapy for the treatment of a single brain metastasis is a safe and effective regimen for patients.

Several different types of cancers spread, or metastasize, to the brain. This is referred to as brain metastasis. Often, brain metastasis may be treated with the surgical removal of the cancer and surrounding tissue if possible, plus radiation therapy. Gliadel Wafer contains the chemotherapy agent carmustine and is formed in the shape of a small wafer. It is then implanted into the surgical site from which the cancer was removed. Once implanted it slowly dissolves, providing anticancer effects to the surrounding area with the goal of killing any remaining cancer cells at and near the site of the metastasis.

Researchers from several medical institutions recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the addition of the Gliadel Wafer to surgery and radiation therapy for patients with a single brain metastasis. This trial included 25 patients with a single brain metastasis from lung cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, or melanoma.

  • No patients experienced a local recurrence (cancer recurrence at or near the site of surgery).
  • At one year one-third of the patients were still alive.
  • At two years one-quarter of the patients were still alive.
  • Four patients (16%) had a cancer recurrence in a different site in the brain, and two patients (8%) had a cancer recurrence in the spinal cord.
  • Two people experienced seizures that were thought to be associated with the Gliadel Wafer.
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The researchers concluded that the addition of the Gliadel Wafer to surgery and radiation therapy provides effective cancer control and was generally well tolerated among patients with a single brain metastasis. The authors stated, “There were no local recurrences, suggesting that this treatment further reduced the risk of local relapse.”

Patients with a solitary brain metastasis who are to undergo treatment with surgery and radiation therapy may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of the addition of a Gliadel Wafer to their therapeutic regimen.

Reference: Ewend M, Brem S, Gilbert M, et al. Treatment of single brain metastasis with resection, intracavity carmustine polymer wafers, and radiation therapy is safe and provides excellent local control. Clinical Cancer Research. 2007;13:3637-3641.

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