Recommendations on Disease Management for Patients With Advanced Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2–Positive Breast Cancer and Brain Metastases: American Society of Clinical Oncology Clinical Practice Guideline

Published online before print May 5, 2014, DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2013.54.0955

Naren Ramakrishna, Sarah Temin, Sarat Chandarlapaty, Jennie R. Crews, Nancy E. Davidson, Francisco J. Esteva, Sharon H. Giordano, Ana M. Gonzalez-Angulo, Jeffrey J. Kirshner, Ian Krop, Jennifer Levinson, Shanu Modi, Debra A. Patt, Edith A. Perez, Jane Perlmutter, Eric P. Winer, and Nancy U. Lin


To provide formal expert consensus–based recommendations to practicing oncologists and others on the management of brain metastases for patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) –positive advanced breast cancer.


The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) convened a panel of medical oncology, radiation oncology, guideline implementation, and advocacy experts and conducted a systematic review of the literature. When that failed to yield sufficiently strong quality evidence, the Expert Panel undertook a formal expert consensus–based process to produce these recommendations. ASCO used a modified Delphi process. The panel members drafted recommendations, and a group of other experts joined them for two rounds of formal ratings of the recommendations. 


No studies or existing guidelines met the systematic review criteria; therefore, ASCO conducted a formal expert consensus–based process. 


Patients with brain metastases should receive appropriate local therapy and systemic therapy, if indicated. Local therapies include surgery, whole-brain radiotherapy, and stereotactic radiosurgery. Treatments depend on factors such as patient prognosis, presence of symptoms, resectability, number and size of metastases, prior therapy, and whether metastases are diffuse. Other options include systemic therapy, best supportive care, enrollment onto a clinical trial, and/or palliative care. Clinicians should not perform routine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to screen for brain metastases, but rather should have a low threshold for MRI of the brain because of the high incidence of brain metastases among patients with HER2-positive advanced breast cancer.

Guideline Disclaimer

The clinical practice guidelines and other guidance published herein are provided by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. ("ASCO") to assist practitioners in clinical decision making. The information therein should not be relied upon as being complete or accurate, nor should it be considered as inclusive of all proper treatments or methods of care or as a statement of the standard of care. With the rapid development of scientific knowledge, new evidence may emerge between the time information is developed and when it is published or read. The information is not continually updated and may not reflect the most recent evidence. The information addresses only the topics specifically identified therein and is not applicable to other interventions, diseases, or stages of diseases. This information does not mandate any particular course of medical care. Further, the information is not intended to substitute for the independent professional judgment of the treating physician, as the information does not account for individual variation among patients. Recommendations reflect high, moderate or low confidence that the recommendation reflects the net effect of a given course of action. The use of words like "must," "must not," "should," and "should not" indicate that a course of action is recommended or not recommended for either most or many patients, but there is latitude for the treating physician to select other courses of action in individual cases. In all cases, the selected course of action should be considered by the treating physician in the context of treating the individual patient. Use of the information is voluntary. ASCO provides this information on an "as is" basis, and makes no warranty, express or implied, regarding the information. ASCO specifically disclaims any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular use or purpose. ASCO assumes no responsibility for any injury or damage to persons or property arising out of or related to any use of this information or for any errors or omissions.