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Cancer. 2008 Oct 1;113(7):1641-8. doi: 10.1002/cncr.23769.

Brain metastasis from renal cell carcinoma: presentation, recurrence, and survival.

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Department of Urology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095-1738, USA.



Patients with renal cell carcinoma brain metastases (RCCBM) are frequently excluded from trials and to the authors' knowledge no guidelines currently exist regarding central nervous system (CNS) surveillance or treatment. The objective of the current study was to assist in the creation of treatment guidelines.


Patients undergoing evaluation for RCCBM from 1989 to 2006 were identified. Their characteristics, symptoms, pathologic variables, number and size of RCCBM, CNS treatment, CNS recurrence, overall survival, and use of systemic therapy were reviewed.


A total of 138 patients were identified with RCCBM, of whom 92% had clear cell RCC and 95% had synchronous extracranial metastases. CNS symptoms were noted in 67% of patients. Symptomatic CNS tumors were larger (2.1 cm vs 1.3 cm; P < .001) and more frequently required a craniotomy (P < .001). The median overall survival after a diagnosis of RCCBM was 10.7 months; the 1-year, 2-year, and 5-year survival rates were 48%, 30%, and 12%, respectively. Median CNS recurrence was 9 months after RCCBM treatment. The initial number of tumors (>1 tumor) was found to be an independent predictor of CNS recurrence (hazards ratio of 3.72; P < .001). Those patients with 1 and >1 lesion had a median CNS recurrence-free survival of 13 months and 4 months, respectively (P < .001). Patients receiving interleukin-2 after CNS treatment had a response rate of 17%.


Patients with metastatic RCC should undergo CNS screening to allow the identification of smaller lesions that are more amenable to treatment. Those patients with solitary RCCBM are less likely to develop CNS recurrence after local therapy. Selected patients with good performance status may exhibit prolonged survival and should be offered aggressive therapy.

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