Role of Pre-Operative Brain Imaging in Patients with NSCLC Stage I: A Retrospective, Multicenter Analysis

Cancers (Basel). 2022 May 13;14(10):2419. doi: 10.3390/cancers14102419.


Background: Lung cancer is the worldwide leading oncological cause of death in both genders combined and accounts for around 40-50% of brain metastases in general. In early-stage lung cancer, the incidence of brain metastases is around 3%. Since the early detection of asymptomatic cerebral metastases is of prognostic value, the aim of this study was to analyze the incidence of brain metastases in early-stage lung cancer and identify possible risk factors. Methods: We conducted a retrospective multicentric analysis of patients with Stage I (based on T and N stage only) Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) who had received preoperative cerebral imaging in the form of contrast-enhanced CT or MRI. Patients with a history of NSCLC, synchronous malignancy, or neurological symptoms were excluded from the study. Analyzed variables were gender, age, tumor histology, cerebral imaging findings, smoking history, and tumor size. Results were expressed as mean with standard deviation or median with range. Results: In total, 577 patients were included in our study. Eight (1.4%) patients were found to have brain metastases in preoperative brain imaging. Tumor histology was adenocarcinoma in all eight cases. Patients were treated with radiotherapy (five), surgical resection (two), or both (one) prior to thoracic surgical treatment. Other than tumor histology, no statistically significant characteristics were found to be predictive of brain metastases. Conclusion: Given the low incidence of brain metastases in patients with clinical Stage I NSCLC, brain imaging in this cohort could be avoided.

Keywords: MRI; NSCLC; brain imaging; lung cancer.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.