Outcome evaluation of patients treated with fractionated Gamma Knife radiosurgery for large (> 3 cm) brain metastases: a dose-escalation study

J Neurosurg. 2019 Aug 16;1-10. doi: 10.3171/2019.5.JNS19222. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Fractionated Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKS) represents a feasible option for patients with large brain metastases (BM). However, the dose-fractionation scheme balanced between local control and radiation-induced toxicity remains unclear. Therefore, the authors conducted a dose-escalation study using fractionated GKS as the primary treatment for large (> 3 cm) BM.

Methods: The exclusion criteria were more than 3 lesions, evidence of leptomeningeal disease, metastatic melanoma, poor general condition, and previously treated lesions. Patients were randomized to receive 24, 27, or 30 Gy in 3 fractions (8, 9, or 10 Gy per fraction, respectively). The primary endpoint was the development of radiation necrosis assessed by a neuroradiologist blinded to the study. The secondary endpoints included the local progression-free survival (PFS) rate, change in tumor volume, development of distant intracranial progression, and overall survival.

Results: Between September 2016 and April 2018, 60 patients were eligible for the study, with 46 patients (15, 17, and 14 patients in the 8-, 9-, and 10-Gy groups, respectively) available for analysis. The median follow-up duration was 9.6 months (range 2.5-25.1 months). The 6-month estimated cumulative incidence of radiation necrosis was 0% in the 8-Gy group, 13% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0%-29%) in the 9-Gy group, and 37% (95% CI 1%-58%) in the 10-Gy group. Being in the 10-Gy group was a significant risk factor for the development of radiation necrosis (p = 0.047; hazard ratio [HR] 7.2, 95% CI 1.1-51.4). The 12-month local PFS rates were 65%, 80%, and 75% in the 8-, 9-, and 10-Gy groups, respectively. Being in the 8-Gy group was a risk factor for local treatment failure (p = 0.037; HR 2.5, 95% CI 1.1-29.6). The mean volume change from baseline was a 47.5% decrease in this cohort. Distant intracranial progression and overall survival did not differ among the 3 groups.

Conclusions: In this dose-escalation study, 27 Gy in 3 fractions appeared to be a relevant regimen of fractionated GKS for large BM because 30 Gy in 3 fractions resulted in unacceptable toxicities and 24 Gy in 3 fractions was associated with local treatment failure.

Keywords: BED = biologically effective dose; BM = brain metastases; CBCT = cone-beam computed tomography; CI = confidence interval; GKS = Gamma Knife radiosurgery; Gamma Knife; HR = hazard ratio; KPS = Karnofsky Performance Scale; PFS = progression-free survival; RTOG = Radiation Therapy Oncology Group; SRS = stereotactic radiosurgery; V12Gy = volume of brain receiving 12 Gy; dose-escalation study; fractionated radiosurgery; metastasis; oncology; rCBV = relative cerebral blood volume; radiation necrosis; stereotactic radiosurgery.