Favorable prognosis of brain metastases in small cell lung cancer

Ann Intern Med. 1987 Mar;106(3):386-9. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-106-3-386.


Brain metastases are found at diagnosis in 10% of patients with small cell lung cancer. To clarify the effect of central nervous system metastases on prognosis, the records of 429 patients with small cell lung cancer were reviewed. Forty-three patients (10%) presented with brain metastases. In 18 patients the brain was the only site of metastatic disease, whereas the remaining 25 patients had at least one additional metastatic site. Forty-one of forty-three patients were treated with combination chemotherapy and cranial radiotherapy. Systemic response rates were similar for both groups. Twenty-seven patients underwent repeat central nervous system staging: 19 (70%) had a complete response, 4 (15%) a partial response, and 4 (15%) no response. Median survival of patients with only one site of metastatic disease was 11 months; patients with additional sites lived 5 months (p = 0.153). Survival in patients with only one site is similar to that in patients with limited disease (11 compared with 13 months; p = 0.074).

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies