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.