Brainstem metastases are rarely operable and generally unresponsive to conventional radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Recently, Gamma Knife Radiosurgery (GKRS) was used as feasible treatment option for brainstem metastasis. The present study evaluated our experience of brainstem metastasis which was treated with GKRS.
Between November 1992 and June 2010, 32 patients (23 men and 9 women, mean age 56.1 years, range 39-73) were treated with GKRS for brainstem metastases. There were metastatic lesions in pons in 23, the midbrain in 6, and the medulla oblongata in 3 patients, respectively. The primary tumor site was lung in 21, breast in 3, kidney in 2 and other locations in 6 patients. The mean tumor volume was 1,517 mm3 (range, 9-6,000), and the mean marginal dose was 15.9 Gy (range, 6-23). Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) was obtained every 2-3 months following GKRS. Follow-up MRI was possible in 24 patients at a mean follow-up duration of 12.0 months (range, 1-45). Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was used to evaluate the prognostic factors.
Follow-up MRI showed tumor disappearance in 6, tumor shrinkage in 14, no change in tumor size in 1, and tumor growth in 3 patients, which translated into a local tumor control rate of 87.5% (21 of 24 tumors). The mean progression free survival was 12.2 months (range, 2-45) after GKRS. Nine patients were alive at the completion of the study, and the overall mean survival time after GKRS was 7.7 months (range, 1-22). One patient with metastatic melanoma experienced intratumoral hemorrhage during the follow-up period. Survival was found to be associated with score of more than 70 on Karnofsky performance status and low recursive partitioning analysis class (class 1 or 2), in terms of favorable prognostic factors.
GKRS was found to be safe and effective for management of brainstem metastasis. The integral clinical status of patient seems to be important in determining the overall survival time.