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Lilyana Angelov, Alireza M. Mohammadi, Elizabeth E. Bennett, Mahmoud Abbassy, Paul Elson, Samuel T. Chao, Joshua S. Montgomery, Ghaith Habboub, Michael A. Vogelbaum, John H. Suh, Erin S. Murphy, Manmeet S. Ahluwalia, Sean J. Nagel and Gene H. Barnett


Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is the primary modality for treating brain metastases. However, effective radiosurgical control of brain metastases ≥ 2 cm in maximum diameter remains challenging and is associated with suboptimal local control (LC) rates of 37%–62% and an increased risk of treatment-related toxicity. To enhance LC while limiting adverse effects (AEs) of radiation in these patients, a dose-dense treatment regimen using 2-staged SRS (2-SSRS) was used. The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of this treatment strategy.


Fifty-four patients (with 63 brain metastases ≥ 2 cm) treated with 2-SSRS were evaluated as part of an institutional review board–approved retrospective review. Volumetric measurements at first-stage stereotactic radiosurgery (first SSRS) and second-stage SRS (second SSRS) treatments and on follow-up imaging studies were determined. In addition to patient demographic data and tumor characteristics, the study evaluated 3 primary outcomes: 1) response at first follow-up MRI, 2) time to local progression (TTP), and 3) overall survival (OS) with 2-SSRS. Response was analyzed using methods for binary data, TTP was analyzed using competing-risks methods to account for patients who died without disease progression, and OS was analyzed using conventional time-to-event methods. When needed, analyses accounted for multiple lesions in the same patient.


Among 54 patients, 46 (85%) had 1 brain metastasis treated with 2-SSRS, 7 patients (13%) had 2 brain metastases concurrently treated with 2-SSRS, and 1 patient underwent 2-SSRS for 3 concurrent brain metastases ≥ 2 cm. The median age was 63 years (range 23–83 years), 23 patients (43%) had non–small cell lung cancer, and 14 patients (26%) had radioresistant tumors (renal or melanoma). The median doses at first and second SSRS were 15 Gy (range 12–18 Gy) and 15 Gy (range 12–15 Gy), respectively. The median duration between stages was 34 days, and median tumor volumes at the first and second SSRS were 10.5 cm3 (range 2.4–31.3 cm3) and 7.0 cm3 (range 1.0–29.7 cm3). Three-month follow-up imaging results were available for 43 lesions; the median volume was 4.0 cm3 (range 0.1–23.1 cm3). The median change in volume compared with baseline was a decrease of 54.9% (range −98.2% to 66.1%; p < 0.001). Overall, 9 lesions (14.3%) demonstrated local progression, with a median of 5.2 months (range 1.3–7.4 months), and 7 (11.1%) demonstrated AEs (6.4% Grade 1 and 2 toxicity; 4.8% Grade 3). The estimated cumulative incidence of local progression at 6 months was 12% ± 4%, corresponding to an LC rate of 88%. Shorter TTP was associated with greater tumor volume at baseline (p = 0.01) and smaller absolute (p = 0.006) and relative (p = 0.05) decreases in tumor volume from baseline to second SSRS. Estimated OS rates at 6 and 12 months were 65% ± 7% and 49% ± 8%, respectively.


2-SSRS is an effective treatment modality that resulted in significant reduction of brain metastases ≥ 2 cm, with excellent 3-month (95%) and 6-month (88%) LC rates and an overall AE rate of 11%. Prospective studies with larger cohorts and longer follow-up are necessary to assess the durability and toxicities of 2-SSRS.