BACKGROUND: Decisions regarding how to treat patients who have 1 to 3 brain metastases require important tradeoffs between controlling recurrences, side effects, and costs. In this analysis, the authors compared novel treatments versus usual care to determine the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio from a payer’s (Medicare) perspective.METHODS: Cost-effectiveness was evaluated using a microsimulation of a Markov model for 60 one-month cycles. The model used 4 simulated cohorts of patients aged 65 years with 1 to 3 brain metastases. The 4 cohorts had a median survival of 3, 6, 12, and 24 months to test the sensitivity of the model to different prognoses. The treatment alternatives evaluated included stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) with 3 variants of salvage after recurrence (whole-brain radiotherapy [WBRT], hippocampal avoidance WBRT [HA-WBRT], SRS plus WBRT, and SRS plus HA-WBRT). The findings were tested for robustness using probabilistic and deterministic sensitivity analyses.RESULTS: Traditional radiation therapies remained cost-effective for patients in the 3-month and 6-month cohorts. In the cohorts with longer median survival, HA-WBRT and SRS plus HA-WBRT became cost-effective relative to traditional treatments. When the treatments that involved HA-WBRT were excluded, either SRS alone or SRS plus WBRT was cost-effective relative to WBRT alone. The deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses confirmed the robustness of these results.CONCLUSIONS: HA-WBRT and SRS plus HA-WBRT were cost-effective for 2 of the 4 cohorts, demonstrating the value of controlling late brain toxicity with this novel therapy. Cost-effectiveness depended on patient life expectancy. SRS was cost-effective in the cohorts with short prognoses (3 and 6 months), whereas HA-WBRT and SRS plus HA-WBRT were cost-effective in the cohorts with longer prognoses (12 and 24 months).