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J Surg Oncol. 2001 Nov;78(3):194-200; discussion 200-1.

Ovarian cancer metastatic to the brain: what is the optimal management?

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Gynecologic-Oncology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73190-0001, USA.



To better define determinants of survival and optimal management strategies for patients with ovarian cancer and brain metastases.


A review of literature using Medline identified 15 case series of ovarian cancer patients with brain metastases (OBM). Each article was abstracted for survival data, and in all cases, the intervals between ovarian cancer diagnosis and brain metastasis identification, and between brain metastasis identification and last follow-up were recorded. Cases were categorized by patient characteristics and treatment modality for brain metastases. Estimated survival probabilities were plotted using the Kaplan-Meier method with differences between subgroups analyzed by the log-rank test. Cox proportional hazards model was used to identify independent prognostic factors age, number of metastasis, and treatment modality associated with survival.


The median interval from ovarian cancer diagnosis to brain metastasis in 104 identified patients was 19.5 months. Brain metastasis was single in 43%, multiple in 41%, and not reported in 16% of cases. About 81.7% of patients were treated for their brain metastases using external radiation therapy (XRT), chemotherapy, and surgery. XRT was utilized in 76% of 104 patients and in 93% of treated patients. The most commonly used modalities were XRT alone (40%) and craniotomy and XRT (17%). The median survival (MS) for all patients regardless of treatment type was 6 months. Patients who received any treatment lived longer than those not receiving surgery/chemotherapy/XRT (MS; 7 months vs. 2 months, P = 0.0001). Patients with single brain metastasis had a longer median survival (21 months vs. 6 months, P = 0.049) when treated with craniotomy plus radiation and/or chemotherapy compared to treatment regimens that excluded craniotomy. In a multivariate analysis, only treatment type was significant in predicting survival.


OBM portends a poor prognosis, however, long-term survival is possible. Patients appear to benefit from therapy, especially selected groups of OBM patients with single brain metastasis treated with radiation therapy and surgery.

Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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