Cranial nerve deficits in patients with metastatic prostate carcinoma: clinical features and treatment outcomes

Cancer. 2004 Oct 1;101(7):1639-43. doi: 10.1002/cncr.20553.


Background: Cranial nerve lesions due to metastases from prostate carcinoma to the skull base are an uncommon yet clinically significant finding.

Methods: The authors report the clinical features, treatment, and outcomes for 15 patients who presented with cranial nerve palsies complicating metastatic prostate carcinoma. Patient charts identified from a Fox Chase Cancer Center treatment data base were reviewed.

Results: All patients had hormone-refractory disease at the time of symptom onset. Twelve of 15 patients had received prior chemotherapy, and 13 of 15 patients had received prior radiation therapy to areas of bony pain. Symptoms varied from recognized clinical syndromes involving multiple cranial nerves to isolated cranial nerve lesions. All patients had lesions at the skull base that were visualized on computed tomography scans or magnetic resonance images. All patients were treated with palliative radiation therapy to either the whole brain or the skull base. Fourteen of 15 patients had a clinical (either partial or complete) response to radiation therapy. All responding patients subsequently died of prostate carcinoma without worsening of residual or development of new cranial nerve symptoms. Ten of 15 patients (67%) died within 3 months of developing symptoms, and the remaining 5 patients lived between 9 months and 31 months from onset of symptoms.

Conclusions: The authors concluded that palliative radiation therapy should be considered in this heterogeneous group of patients given the potential for significant symptom improvement.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / etiology*
  • Cranial Nerve Neoplasms / mortality
  • Cranial Nerve Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Cranial Nerve Neoplasms / therapy
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / complications*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Skull Base Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Skull Base Neoplasms / mortality
  • Skull Base Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Skull Base Neoplasms / therapy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome