Is stereotactic radiosurgery a rational treatment option for brain metastases from small cell lung cancer? A retrospective analysis of 70 consecutive patients

BMC Cancer. 2015 Mar 4;15:95. doi: 10.1186/s12885-015-1103-6.


Background: Because of the high likelihood of multiple brain metastases (BM) from small cell lung cancer (SCLC), the role of focal treatment using stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) has yet to be determined. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy and limitations of upfront and salvage SRS for patients with BM from SCLC.

Methods: This was a retrospective and observational study analyzing 70 consecutive patients with BM from SCLC who received SRS. The median age was 68 years, and the median Karnofsky performance status (KPS) was 90. Forty-six (66%) and 24 (34%) patients underwent SRS as the upfront and salvage treatment after prophylactic or therapeutic whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT), respectively. Overall survival (OS), neurological death-free survival, remote and local tumor recurrence rates were analyzed.

Results: None of our patients were lost to follow-up and the median follow-up was 7.8 months. One-and 2-year OS rates were 43% and 15%, respectively. The median OS time was 7.8 months. One-and 2-year neurological death-free survival rates were 94% and 84%, respectively. In total, 219/292 tumors (75%) in 60 patients (86 %) with sufficient radiological follow-up data were evaluated. Six-and 12-month rates of remote BM relapse were 25% and 47%, respectively. Six-and 12-month rates of local control failure were 4% and 23%, respectively. Repeat SRS, salvage WBRT and microsurgery were subsequently required in 30, 8 and one patient, respectively. Symptomatic radiation injury, treated conservatively, developed in 3 patients.

Conclusions: The present study suggested SRS to be a potentially effective and minimally invasive treatment option for BM from SCLC either alone or after failed WBRT. Although repeat salvage treatment was needed in nearly half of patients to achieve control of distant BM, such continuation of radiotherapeutic management might contribute to reducing the rate of neurological death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Karnofsky Performance Status
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Radiosurgery*
  • Retreatment
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Salvage Therapy
  • Small Cell Lung Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Treatment Outcome