A multi-institutional review of radiosurgery alone vs. radiosurgery with whole brain radiotherapy as the initial management of brain metastases

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2002 Jul 1;53(3):519-26. doi: 10.1016/s0360-3016(02)02770-0.


Purpose: Data collected from 10 institutions were reviewed to compare survival probabilities of patients with newly diagnosed brain metastases managed initially with radiosurgery (RS) alone vs. RS + whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT).

Methods and materials: A database was created from raw data submitted from 10 institutions on patients treated with RS for brain metastases. The major exclusion criteria were resection of a brain metastasis and interval from the end of WBRT until RS >1 month (to try to ensure that the up-front intent was to combine RS + WBRT and that RS was not given for recurrent brain metastases). Survival was estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method from the date of first treatment for brain metastases until death or last follow-up. Survival times were compared for patients managed initially with RS alone vs. RS + WBRT using the Cox proportional hazards model to adjust for known prognostic factors or Radiation Therapy Oncology Group recursive partitioning analysis (RPA) class.

Results: Out of 983 patients, 31 were excluded because treatment began after 6/1/98; 159 were excluded because brain metastases were resected; 179 were excluded because there was an interval >1 month from WBRT until RS; and 45 were excluded for other reasons. Of the 569 evaluable patients, 268 had RS alone initially (24% of whom ultimately had salvage WBRT), and 301 had RS + up-front WBRT. The median survival times for patients treated with RS alone initially vs. RS + WBRT were 14.0 vs. 15.2 months for RPA Class 1 patients, 8.2 vs. 7.0 months for Class 2, and 5.3 vs. 5.5 months for Class 3, respectively. With adjustment by RPA class, there was no survival difference comparing RS alone initially to RS + up-front WBRT (p = 0.33, hazard ratio = 1.09).

Conclusions: Omission of up-front WBRT does not seem to compromise length of survival in patients treated with RS for newly diagnosed brain metastases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cranial Irradiation* / mortality
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection
  • Radiosurgery* / mortality
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Salvage Therapy
  • Time Factors