Synchronous brain metastases as a poor prognosis factor in clear cell renal carcinoma: a strong argument for systematic brain screening

J Neurooncol. 2021 May;153(1):133-141. doi: 10.1007/s11060-021-03751-5. Epub 2021 Apr 10.


Purpose: Brain metastases (BM) usually represent a poor prognostic factor in solid tumors. About 10% of patients with renal cancer (RCC) will present BM. Local therapies such as stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT), whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT), and surgery are used to achieve brain control. We compared survival between patients with synchronous BM (SynBM group) and metachronous BM (MetaBM group).

Methods: It is a retrospective study of patients with clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) and BM treated with TKI between 2005 and 2019 at the Centre Léon Bérard in Lyon. We collected prognostic factors: The International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium (IMDC) risk score, the TNM stage, the histological subtypes and the Fuhrman grade. Overall survival (OS) was defined from diagnosis of metastatic ccRCC to death. Brain progression-free survival (B-PFS) was defined from focal brain therapy to brain progression or death.

Results: 99 patients were analyzed, 44 in the SynBM group and 55 in the MetaBM group. OS in the MetaBM group was 49.4 months versus 19.6 months in the SynBM group, p = 0.0002. The median time from diagnosis of metastasic disease to apparition of BM in the MetaBM group was 22.9 months (4.3; 125.7). SRT was used for 101 lesions (66.4%), WBRT for 25 patients (16.4%), surgery for 21 lesions (13.8%), surgery followed by radiation for 5 lesions (3.3%). B-PFS for all patients was 7 months (IC95% [5.0-10.5]).

Conclusions: Survival of patients with synchronous BM is inferior to that of patients with metachronous BM. Outcome is poor in both cases after diagnosis of BM. Brain screening should be encouraged at time of diagnosis of metastatis in ccRCC.

Keywords: Cabozantinib; Clear cell renal cell carcinoma; Immunotherapy; Metastatic; Stereotactic radiation; Synchronous brain metastases.