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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1999 Mar 1;43(4):795-803.

Identification of prognostic factors in patients with brain metastases: a review of 1292 patients.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center, University Hospital Rotterdam, The Netherlands. lagerwaard@rtdh.AZR.NL



Prognostic factors in 1292 patients with brain metastases, treated in a single institution were identified in order to determine subgroups of patients suitable for selection in future trials.


From January 1981 through December 1990, 1292 patients with CT-diagnosed brain metastases were referred to the Department of Radiation Oncology, Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center, Rotterdam. The majority of patients were treated with whole brain radiotherapy (84%), the remainder were treated with steroids only or surgery and radiotherapy. Information on potential prognostic factors (age, sex, performance status, number and distribution of brain metastases, site of primary tumor, histology, interval between primary tumor and brain metastases, systemic tumor activity, serum lactate dehydrogenase, response to steroid treatment, and treatment modality) was collected. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to determine significant prognostic factors. Results were compared with literature findings using a review of prognostic factors in 18 published reports.


Overall median survival was 3.4 months, with 6-month, 1-year, and 2-year survival percentages of 36%, 12%, and 4% respectively. Survival was statistically significantly different between treatment modalities, with median survival of 1.3 months in patients treated with steroids only, 3.6 months in patients treated with radiotherapy, and 8.9 months in patients treated with neurosurgery followed by radiotherapy (p < 0.0001). Multivariate analysis confirmed literature findings of the major prognostic value of treatment modality on survival of patients with brain metastases. Performance status, response to steroid treatment, systemic tumor activity, and serum lactate dehydrogenase were independent prognostic factors with the strongest impact on survival, second only to treatment modality. Site of primary tumor, age, and number of brain metastases were also identified as prognostic factors in our material, although with lesser importance. In patients with lung primaries, sex was found to have significant impact on survival. In patients with breast primaries, interval between primary tumor and development of brain metastases appeared to be a statistically significant prognostic factor. Histology in patients with lung primaries and distribution of brain metastases were not found to be statistically significant in multivariate analysis.


In this large database, the value of established prognostic factors was confirmed and, furthermore, some less well-recognized parameters such as response to steroid treatment, serum lactate dehydrogenase, age, sex in lung primaries, and site of primary tumor were established. From the three strongest prognostic factors--performance status, response to steroids, and evidence of systemic disease--simple identification of favorable and unfavorable subgroups of patients with brain metastases can be constructed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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