Texas residents may know someone who has extensive-disease small cell lung cancer. At this stage, the person’s SCLC has spread to other parts of the body beyond the lung tissue in a process called metastasis. A study published in February 2020 has identified three risk factors for brain metastasis in ED-SCLC patients that may help doctors determine if they should undergo prophylactic cranial irradiation.

PCI is a form of radiation therapy that’s meant to kill any cancer cells that may have spread to the brain. These cancer cells may, after all, be missed by previous scans. Researchers found that the following three factors raised a patient’s risk for brain metastasis: extrathoracic metastases, hypermetabolism of the bone marrow or spleen and a high neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio.

The study involved 190 ED-SCLC patients. High-risk patients who underwent PCI saw a higher brain metastasis-free survival rate than other high-risk patients: 94.7% as opposed to 62.1%. Among low-risk patients, the metastasis-free survival rate did not significantly change. For both groups, the overall survival rate was largely the same whether or not they underwent PCI. Researchers acknowledge that the small number of patients analyzed is one of the study’s limitations. They still recommend the use of PCI based on the presence of those three risk factors for brain metastasis.

Doctors may not always make the right decision in regard to this or to other matters, and if their negligence leads to further injuries among cancer patients, then there may be good grounds for a medical malpractice claim. A lawyer may assist with each step and seek to negotiate a settlement.