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Cancer. 1986 Aug 15;58(4):832-9.

Chemotherapy induces regression of brain metastases in breast carcinoma.


This study improves treatment options and ultimately survival by using systemic chemotherapy in brain metastases from breast carcinoma, since most of these patients have disseminated disease and a dismal prognosis when treated by conventional brain irradiation alone. One hundred consecutive patients with symptomatic brain metastases documented by radionuclide and/or computerized tomography scan were treated with systemic chemotherapy. Fifty of 100 patients demonstrated an objective response of brain metastases which was similar for extracranial metastases. There were 10 complete responders (CR), 40 partial responders (PR), 9 stable, and 41 nonresponders. Median duration of remission was 10+ months for CR and 7 months for PR (range, 2-72 months). Primary chemotherapy of brain metastases yielded responses in 27 of 52 patients (52%) treated with Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) (C), 5-fluorouracil (F) and prednisone (P); 19 of 35 (54%) receiving CFP-methotrexate (M) and vincristine (V); 3 of 7 (43%) treated with MVP, and 1 of 6 (17%) receiving Cytoxan plus Adriamycin (doxorubicin) (CA). Thirteen of 35 patients (37%) who subsequently had relapse of brain metastases were retreated successfully with secondary chemotherapy. The median survival for CR and PR was 39.5 months and 10.5 months, respectively, in contrast with nonresponder patients who had a median survival of 1.5 months. Thirty-one percent of all treated patients survived more than 12 months. These findings suggest that the chemotherapeutic agents used penetrate the blood-brain barrier inducing regression of brain metastases. This approach offers a significant benefit by simultaneously controlling extracranial disease, improving the response and prolonging survival.

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