The authors previously evaluated risk and time course of adverse radiation effects (AREs) following stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for brain metastases, excluding lesions treated after prior SRS. In the present analysis they focus specifically on single-fraction salvage SRS to brain metastases previously treated with SRS or hypofractionated SRS (HFSRS), evaluating freedom from progression (FFP) and the risk and time course of AREs.
Brain metastases treated from September 1998 to May 2019 with single-fraction SRS after prior SRS or HFSRS were analyzed. Serial follow-up magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and surgical pathology reports were reviewed to score local treatment failure and AREs. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate FFP and risk of ARE measured from the date of repeat SRS with censoring at the last brain MRI.
A total of 229 retreated brain metastases in 124 patients were evaluable. The most common primary cancers were breast, lung, and melanoma. The median interval from prior SRS/HFSRS to repeat SRS was 15.4 months, the median prescription dose was 18 Gy, and the median duration of follow-up imaging was 14.5 months. At 1 year after repeat SRS, FFP was 80% and the risk of symptomatic ARE was 11%. The 1-year risk of imaging changes, including asymptomatic RE and symptomatic ARE, was 30%. Among lesions that demonstrated RE, the median time to onset was 6.7 months (IQR 4.7–9.9 months) and the median time to peak imaging changes was 10.1 months (IQR 5.6–13.6 months). Lesion size by quadratic mean diameter (QMD) showed similar results for QMDs ranging from 0.75 to 2.0 cm (1-year FFP 82%, 1-year risk of symptomatic ARE 11%). For QMD < 0.75 cm, the 1-year FFP was 86% and the 1-year risk of symptomatic ARE was only 2%. Outcomes were worse for QMDs 2.01–3.0 cm (1-year FFP 65%, 1-year risk of symptomatic ARE 24%). The risk of symptomatic ARE was not increased with tyrosine kinase inhibitors or immunotherapy before or after repeat SRS.
RE on imaging was common after repeat SRS (30% at 1 year), but the risk of a symptomatic ARE was much less (11% at 1 year). The results of repeat single-fraction SRS were good for brain metastases ≤ 2 cm. The authors recommend an interval ≥ 6 months from prior SRS and a prescription dose ≥ 18 Gy. Alternatives such as HFSRS, laser interstitial thermal therapy, or resection with adjuvant radiation should be considered for recurrent brain metastases > 2 cm.