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J Neurooncol. 2013 Sep;114(2):181-9. doi: 10.1007/s11060-013-1169-4. Epub 2013 Jun 7.

Systemic treatment after whole-brain radiotherapy may improve survival in RPA class II/III breast cancer patients with brain metastasis.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, China.


Whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) is the most widely used treatment for brain metastasis (BM), especially for patients with multiple intracranial lesions. The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of systemic treatments following WBRT in breast cancer patients with BM who had different clinical characteristics, based on the classification of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group recursive partitioning analysis (RPA) and the breast cancer-specific Graded Prognostic Assessment (Breast-GPA). One hundred and one breast cancer patients with BM treated between 2006 and 2010 were analyzed. The median interval between breast cancer diagnosis and identification of BM in the triple-negative patients was shorter than in the luminal A subtype (26 vs. 36 months, respectively; P = 0.021). Univariate analysis indicated that age at BM diagnosis, Karnofsky performance status/recursive partitioning analysis (KPS/RPA) classes, number of BMs, primary tumor control, extracranial metastases and systemic treatment following WBRT were significant prognostic factors for overall survival (OS) (P < 0.05). Multivariate analysis revealed that KPS/RPA classes and systemic treatments following WBRT remained the significant prognostic factors for OS. For RPA class I, the median survival with and without systemic treatments following WBRT was 25 and 22 months, respectively (P = 0.819), while for RPA class II/III systemic treatments significantly improved OS from 7 and 2 months to 11 and 5 months, respectively (P < 0.05). Our results suggested that triple-negative patients had a shorter interval between initial diagnosis and the development of BM than luminal A patients. Systemic treatments following WBRT improved the survival of RPA class II/III patients.

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