Brain metastases outcome
Overall prognosis depends on age, extent and activity of the systemic disease, number of brain metastases and performance status. In about half of the patients, especially those with widespread and uncontrolled systemic malignancy, death is heavily related to extra-neural lesions, and treatment of cerebral disease doesn’t significantly improve survival.
In such patients the aim is to improve or stabilize the neurological deficit and maintain quality of life. Corticosteroids and whole brain radiotherapy usually fulfill this purpose. By contrast, patients with limited number of brain metastases, good performance status and controlled or limited systemic disease, may benefit from aggressive treatment as both quality of life and survival are primarily related to treatment of brain lesions.
Strong positive prognostic factors include good functional status, age <65 years, no sites of metastasis outside of the central nervous system (CNS), controlled primary tumor 1), the presence of a single metastasis in the brain, long interval from primary diagnosis to brain relapse, and certain cancer subtypes such as HER2 positive breast cancer brain metastasesand EGFR Non small cell lung cancer intracranial metastases (NSCLC) 2) 3) 4)
In a study of the Royal North Shore Hospital, on univariate analysis, number of metastases (P = 0.04), symptomatic extracranial disease (P = 0.04) and early CNS relapse within 6 months (P < 0.01) had worse survival. No grade 3-4 toxicityevents were noted in 129 patients undergoing RT 6).
It is presently unknown whether patients with brain metastases from heavily pre-treated cancers have a significantly different prognosis than those with less pre-treatment 7).