Background: Breast cancer is the second most common cause of brain metastases in the United States. Although breast cancer induced brain metastases represent an incurable condition, some patients experience prolonged survival. In this retrospective study, we examine a cohort of patients with brain metastases from breast cancer treated with Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery to identify factors that predict better outcomes.
Methods: A retrospective database of 100 patients treated for brain metastases due to breast cancer via Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKS) from July 1998 through March 2009 was reviewed. Patients who received radiosurgery as sole treatment, as a planned boost after whole brain radiotherapy or surgical resection, or as salvage after prior whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT) or surgical resection were included. Prognostic factors identified to be significant for survival in previous brain metastasis studies were analyzed for significance by univariate and multivariate Cox analysis.
Results: Overall, the median brain progression-free survival time was 7.1 months and the median survival time was 12.3 months. No prognostic variables were significant for brain progression-free survival. For patients treated with a planned GKS after WBRT, GKS as sole treatment, GKS salvage after WBRT, GKS boost after surgery, or GKS for surgical salvage the median survival times (MSTs) were as follows: 12.2 months, 12.4 months, 9.5 months, 27.6 months and 33.4 months respectively. Differences between the groups were not significant (p = 0.06); however, GKS boost after surgery and GKS for salvage after surgery did have a trend toward better overall survival.
Conclusion: Stereotactic radiosurgery offers good local control and prolonged survival in selected patients. Age and number of lesions are strong predictors of overall survival.