Objective: The purpose of this retrospective study was to evaluate the outcome of gamma knife radiosurgery (GKRS) and/or whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT) for the treatment of small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) metastasis to the brain.
Methods: From 2000 to 2010, 50 patients underwent GKRS for metastatic brain lesions originating from SCLC. Among these patients, 11 received prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) before the development of metastatic lesions (PCI group), and GKRS was performed as an initial treatment for newly diagnosed lesions in 12 patients who had not received PCI (primary GKRS group). In addition, GKRS was performed as a salvage treatment for progressive lesions after WBRT in 27 patients (salvage GKRS group). The medical records and imaging data of all patients were retrospectively analyzed.
Results: The overall survival of the 50 patients was 20.8 months (range 1-53) after the diagnosis of primary tumor and 12.0 months (range 1-47) after the development of cerebral metastasis. Median survival after GKRS was 4.8 months (range 1-15) in the PCI group, 4.6 months (range 0-18) in the primary GKRS group, and 7.6 months (range 0-33) in the salvage GKRS group. Further treatment for progressive lesions after GKRS was necessary in 15 patients, after a mean interval of 3.8 months. Causes of death were systemic organ failure in 15 patients, deterioration of neurological state in 13 patients, and unknown or combined causes in 16 patients. The local control rate of the lesions treated with GKRS was 76.4% (decreased in 13 patients and stable in 16 patients at the final imaging follow-up (mean 5.60 months).
Conclusion: GKRS is an effective local treatment for brain metastasis from SCLC both as an initial treatment for newly diagnosed lesions after PCI and as a salvage treatment for recurrent or progressive lesions. However, the survival benefit is not significant because most patients die of systemic multi-organ failure with a short life expectancy.
Keywords: Gamma knife; Metastasis; Radiosurgery; Small cell lung carcinoma.