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Systemic treatments for brain metastases from breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, melanoma and renal cell carcinoma: An overview of the literature

Cancer Treatment Reviews



  • HER targeted therapies showed interesting results in brain metastases from breast cancer.
  • EGFR inhibitors showed activity in brain metastases from adenocarcinoma lung cancer.
  • Antiangiogenic drugs showed activity in brain metastases from renal carcinoma and adenocarcinoma lung cancer.
  • Immunostimulatory agents showed efficacy in brain metastases from melanoma.


The frequency of metastatic brain tumors has increased over recent years; the primary tumors most involved are breast cancer, lung cancer, melanoma and renal cell carcinoma. While radiation therapy and surgery remain the mainstay treatment in selected patients, new molecular drugs have been developed for brain metastases. Studies so far report interesting results.

This review focuses on systemic cytotoxic drugs and, in particular, on new targeted therapies and their clinically relevant activities in brain metastases from solid tumors in adults.

Keywords: Brain metastases, Melanoma, Lung cancer, Breast cancer, Renal cell carcinoma.


a Medical Oncology 1 Unit, Veneto Institute of Oncology IOV – IRCCS, Padua, Italy

b AP-HP, Groupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière, Service de Neurologie 2, Paris 75013, France

c National Neurological Institute C. Mondino, University of Pavia, Italy

d APHM, Timone Hospital, Neuro-Oncology, Marseille, France

e Aix-Marseille University, CRO2, UMR911, Marseille, France

lowast Corresponding author. Address: Medical Oncology 1, Veneto Institute of Oncology – IRCSS, via Gattamelata, 64, 35128 Padua, Italy. Tel.: +39 3290048377; fax: +39 0498215904.

1 All authors contributed equally to the writing of the paper.