Bevacizumab as a treatment option for radiation necrosis after cranial radiation therapy: a retrospective monocentric analysis

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Background and purpose

Radiation necrosis is a possible adverse event after cranial radiation therapy and can cause severe symptoms, such as an increased intracranial pressure or neurological deterioration. The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor bevacizumab (BEV) has been shown to be a feasible therapeutic option for symptomatic radiation necrosis, either when traditional antiedematous steroid treatment fails, or as an alternative to steroid treatment. However, to the best of our knowledge, only one randomized study with a rather small cohort exists to prove a beneficial effect in this setting. Therefore, further real-life data are needed. This retrospective monocentric case study evaluates patients who received BEV due to radiation necrosis, with a specific focus on the respective clinical course.


Using the internal database for pharmaceutical products, all patients who received BEV in our department were identified. Only patients who received BEV as symptomatic treatment for radiation necrosis were included. Patient characteristics, symptoms before, during, and after treatment, and the use of dexamethasone were evaluated using medical reports and systematic internal documentation. The symptoms were graded using CTCAE version 5.0 for general neurological symptoms. Symptoms were graded directly before each cycle and after the treatment (approximately 6 weeks). Additionally, the daily steroid dose was collected at these timepoints. Patients who either improved in symptoms, received less dexamethasone after treatment, or both were considered to have a benefit from the treatment.


Twenty-one patients who received BEV due to radiation necrosis were identified. For 10 patients (47.6%) symptoms improved and 11 patients (52.4%) remained clinically stable during the treatment. In 14 patients (66.7%) the dexamethasone dose could be reduced during therapy, 5 patients (23.8%) received the same dose of dexamethasone before and after the treatment, and 2 patients (9.5%) received a higher dose at the end of the treatment. According to this analysis, overall, 19 patients (90.5%) benefited from the treatment with BEV. No severe adverse effects were reported.


BEV might be an effective and safe therapeutic option for patients with radiation necrosis as a complication after cranial radiation therapy. Patients seem to benefit from this treatment by improving symptomatically or through reduction of dexamethasone.

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Correspondence to Dr. med. R. Bodensohn.

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Conflict of interest

R. Bodensohn, I. Hadi, D.F. Fleischmann, S. Corradini, N. Thon, J. Rauch, C. Belka, and M. Niyazi declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants or on human tissue were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1975 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Bodensohn, R., Hadi, I., Fleischmann, D.F. et al. Bevacizumab as a treatment option for radiation necrosis after cranial radiation therapy: a retrospective monocentric analysis. Strahlenther Onkol 196, 70–76 (2020) doi:10.1007/s00066-019-01521-x

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  • Stereotactic radiosurgery
  • High-grade glioma
  • Antiedematous treatment
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor
  • Brain metastases