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J Neurooncol. 2011 Sep;104(2):553-7. doi: 10.1007/s11060-010-0514-0. Epub 2011 Jan 7.

Linear accelerator-based stereotactic radiosurgery for brainstem metastases: the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center experience.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


To review the safety and efficacy of linear accelerator-based stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for brainstem metastases. We reviewed all patients with brain metastases treated with SRS at DF/BWCC from 2001 to 2009 to identify patients who had SRS to a single brainstem metastasis. Overall survival and freedom-from-local failure rates were calculated from the date of SRS using the Kaplan-Meier method. Prognostic factors were evaluated using the log-rank test and Cox proportional hazards model. A total of 24 consecutive patients with brainstem metastases had SRS. At the time of SRS, 21/24 had metastatic lesions elsewhere within the brain. 23/24 had undergone prior WBRT. Primary diagnoses included eight NSCLC, eight breast cancer, three melanoma, three renal cell carcinoma and two others. Median dose was 13 Gy (range, 8-16). One patient had fractionated SRS 5 Gy ×5. Median target volume was 0.2 cc (range, 0.02-2.39). The median age was 57 years (range, 42-92). Follow-up information was available in 22/24 cases. At the time of analysis, 18/22 patients (82%) had died. The median overall survival time was 5.3 months (range, 0.8-21.1 months). The only prognostic factor that trended toward statistical significance for overall survival was the absence of synchronous brain metastasis at the time of SRS; 1-year overall survival was 31% with versus 67% without synchronous brain metastasis (log rank P = 0.11). Non-significant factors included primary tumor histology and status of extracranial disease (progressing vs. stable/absent). Local failure occurred in 4/22 cases (18%). Actuarial freedom from local failure for all cases was 78.6% at 1 year. RTOG grade 3 toxicities were recorded in two patients (ataxia, confusion). Linac-based SRS for small volume brainstem metastases using a median dose of 13 Gy is associated with acceptable local control and low morbidity.

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