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Mesothelioma Spreading to the Brain and the Role of Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Mesothelioma Spreading to the Brain and the Role of Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh shared a case about a mesothelioma patient whose cancer spread to their brain. Doctors used a treatment called stereotactic radiosurgery to treat the tumors in the brain.

A Glimpse into Treatment Challenges

The patient had a type of cancer called pleural mesothelioma. This cancer develops in the lining of the lungs. It is caused by inhaling tiny asbestos fibers that cause inflammation, which leads to tumors.

Pleural mesothelioma occurs in about 2,000 people in the United States every year. The disease occurs more often in men than women. It can often take around 40 years for pleural mesothelioma to begin. The symptoms might include shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and fatigue.

Pleural mesothelioma is a rare cancer, and it is even more rare for it to spread to the brain. To help this patient feel better, their doctors used a special kind of radiation therapy called stereotactic radiosurgery.

A Case Study and the Potential of Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Mesothelioma is usually treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. A newer treatment that has recently emerged is immunotherapy.

The patient received the treatment twice to treat a total of 15 tumors in the brain. After the first treatment, the tumors responded well. Some symptoms like swelling improved with the help of medications.

But during the next three months, eight new tumors appeared, and the patient needed to have the special radiation treatment again. The treatment helped control the tumors and improved the patient’s ability to function, but the patient ultimately passed away from the cancer spreading throughout their body.

This happened one year after they were diagnosed with the disease and six months after the first stereotactic radiosurgery treatment for the brain tumors. They were receiving other treatments like immunotherapy and chemotherapy at the same time, but they couldn’t stop the cancer from spreading.

The researchers shared this case because they believe that stereotactic radiosurgery can be used by other doctors to treat mesothelioma that spreads to the brain. They also encourage more research to develop better treatments to improve the survival rate of mesothelioma.


Donohue JK, Wei Z, Deng H, Niranjan A, Lunsford LD. Management of sarcomatoid Malignant pleural mesothelioma brain metastases with stereotactic radiosurgery: an Illustrative case [published online ahead of print, 2023 Jul 9]. Br J Neurosurg. 2023;1-3. doi:10.1080/02688697.2023.2233602. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37424102/

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