Brain metastasis from ovarian cancer: a systematic review

J Neurooncol. 2014 Aug;119(1):1-6. doi: 10.1007/s11060-014-1447-9. Epub 2014 May 1.


To review the existing literature on brain metastasis (BM) from ovarian cancer and to assess the frequency, anatomical, clinical and paraclinical information and factors associated with prognosis. Ovarian cancer is a rare cause of brain metastasis with a recently reported increasing prevalence. Progressive neurologic disability and poor prognosis is common. A comprehensive review on this subject has not been published previously. This systematic literature search used the Pubmed and Yale library. A total of 66 publications were found, 57 of which were used representing 591 patients with BM from ovarian cancer. The median age of the patients was 54.3 years (range 20-81). A majority of patients (57.3 %) had multiple brain lesions. The location of the lesion was cerebellar (30 %), frontal (20 %), parietal (18 %) and occipital (11 %). Extracranial metastasis was present in 49.8 % of cases involving liver (20.7 %), lung (20.4 %), lymph nodes (12.6 %), bones (6.6 %) and pelvic organs (4.3 %). The most common symptoms were weakness (16 %), seizures (11 %), altered mentality (11 %) visual disturbances (9 %) and dizziness (8 %). The interval from diagnosis of breast cancer to BM ranged from 0 to 133 months (median 24 months) and median survival was 8.2 months. Local radiation, surgical resection, stereotactic radiosurgery and medical therapy were used. Factors that significantly increased the survival were younger age at the time of ovarian cancer diagnosis and brain metastasis diagnosis, lower grade of the primary tumor, higher KPS score and multimodality treatment for the brain metastases. Ovarian cancer is a rare cause of brain metastasis. Development of brain metastasis among older patients and lower KPS score correlate with less favorable prognosis. The more prolonged survival after using multimodality treatment for brain metastasis is important due to potential impact on management of brain metastasis in future.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / mortality
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous / secondary*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / mortality
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Prognosis