How to dose-stage large or high-risk brain metastases: an alternative two-fraction radiosurgical treatment approach

J Neurosurg. 2022 Apr 15;137(6):1666-1675. doi: 10.3171/2022.2.JNS212440. Print 2022 Dec 1.


Objective: The authors sought to evaluate clinical outcome in patients with large, high-risk brain metastases (BMs) treated with different dose strategies by use of two-fraction dose-staged Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS).

Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed with data from 142 patients from two centers who had been treated with two-fraction dose-staged GKRS between June 2015 and January 2020. Depending on the changes in marginal dose between the first (GKRS1) and second (GKRS2) GKRS treatments, the study population was divided into three treatment groups: dose escalation, dose maintenance, and dose de-escalation.

Results: The 142 study patients underwent two-fraction dose-staged GKRS treatments for 166 large, high-risk BMs. The median tumor volume of 7.4 cm3 decreased significantly from GKRS1 to GKRS2 (4.4 cm3; p < 0.001), and to the last follow-up (1.8 cm3; p < 0.001). These significant differences in BM volume reduction were achieved in all three treatment groups. However, differences according to the primary tumor histology were apparent: while dose maintenance seemed to be the most effective treatment strategy for BMs from lung cancer or melanoma, dose escalation was the most beneficial treatment option for BMs from breast, gastrointestinal, or genitourinary cancer. Of note, the vast majority of patients who underwent dose-staged BM treatment did not show any significant postradiosurgical complications.

Conclusions: In patients with large, high-risk BMs, dose-staged GKRS treatment represents an effective local treatment method with acceptable complication risks. Different dose-strategy options are available that may be chosen according to the primary tumor histology and treatment volume but may also be tailored to the findings at GKRS2.

Keywords: Gamma Knife radiosurgery; brain metastases; dose-staged GKRS; oncology; primary tumor; stereotactic radiosurgery.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Brain Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Radiosurgery* / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Burden