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Cancer Manag Res. 2011;3:287-94. doi: 10.2147/CMR.S22717. Epub 2011 Aug 17.

Prophylactic cranial irradiation in non-small cell lung cancer patients: who might be the candidates?

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9th Respiratory Medicine Department, University of Athens Medical School, "Sotiria" Chest Diseases Hospital, Athens, Greece.



Brain metastases (BMs) often advance the course of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We performed an observational study in order to investigate the possible correlation of selected clinical and epidemiological factors with BM appearance in patients suffering from different histological subtypes of NSCLC stage I-IV.


The study included 161 consecutive patients with NSCLC. Analyzed data included patient- and tumor-related characteristics.


Thirty-nine patients (24.2%) presented BMs within 12 (0-36) weeks of diagnosis. BMs decreased the mean overall survival significantly (15.6 versus 50.7 weeks, P < 0.001), with hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) 3.60 (2.42-5.35). The age of the patients with BM was significantly lower than that of the patients without BM (60.8 ± 8.9 versus 66.5 ± 8.5, P < 0.001). Patients with BM had significantly higher pack-years consumption (75.9 ± 23.9 versus 58.9 ± 31.9, P = 0.003) and larger tumor size compared with patients without BM (size in mm: 55.1 ± 20.1 versus 45.9 ± 19.3, P = 0.012). The presence of BM was also correlated with the absence of lung (P < 0.001), bone (P = 0.005), and adrenal (P = 0.046) metastases.


Younger NSCLC patients with high tobacco consumption, large tumor size, and absence of metastases in other organs (lung, bones, adrenal metastases) are at high risk of BM appearance during the course of NSCLC and are candidates for prophylactic cranial irradiation early in the course of the disease.


NSCLC; PCI; brain metastases; clinical and epidemiological factors

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