Epileptic seizures are a common and potentially devastating complication of metastatic brain tumors. Although tumor-related seizures have been described in previous case series, most studies have focused on primary brain tumors and have not differentiated between different types of cerebral metastases. The authors analyzed a large surgical cohort of patients with brain metastases to examine risk factors associated with preoperative and postoperative seizures and to better understand the seizure risk factors of metastatic brain tumors.
Patients who underwent resection of a brain metastasis at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), were retrospectively reviewed. Patients included in the study were ≥ 18 years of age, required resection of a brain metastasis, and were treated at UCSF. Primary cancers included melanoma, non–small cell lung adenocarcinoma, breast adenocarcinoma, colorectal adenocarcinoma, esophageal adenocarcinoma, gastric adenocarcinoma, renal cell carcinoma, urothelial carcinoma, ovarian carcinoma, cervical squamous cell carcinoma, and endometrial adenocarcinoma. Patients were evaluated for primary cancer type and seizure occurrence, as well as need for use of antiepileptic drugs preoperatively, at time of discharge, and at 6 months postoperatively. Additionally, Engel classification scores were assigned to those patients who initially presented with seizures preoperatively. Univariate and multivariate regression analyses were used to assess the association of tumor type with preoperative seizures.
Data were retrospectively analyzed for 348 consecutive patients who underwent surgical treatment of brain metastases between 1998 and 2019. The cohort had a mean age of 60 years at the time of surgery and was 59% female. The mean and median follow-up durations after the date of surgery for the cohort were 22 months and 10.8 months, respectively. In univariate analysis, frontal lobe location (p = 0.05), melanoma (p = 0.02), KRAS mutation in lung carcinoma (p = 0.04), intratumoral hemorrhage (p = 0.04), and prior radiotherapy (p = 0.04) were associated with seizure presentation. Postoperative checkpoint inhibitor use (p = 0.002), prior radiotherapy (p = 0.05), older age (p = 0.002), distant CNS progression (p = 0.004), and parietal lobe tumor location (p = 0.002) were associated with seizures at 6 months postoperatively. The final multivariate model confirmed the independent effects of tumor location in the frontal lobe and presence of intratumoral hemorrhage as predictors of preoperative seizures, and checkpoint inhibitor use and parietal lobe location were identified as significant predictors of seizures at 6 months postoperatively.
Within this surgical cohort of patients with brain metastases, seizures were seen in almost a quarter of patients preoperatively. Frontal lobe metastases and hemorrhagic tumors were associated with higher risk of preoperative seizures, whereas checkpoint inhibitor use and parietal lobe tumors appeared to be associated with seizures at 6 months postoperatively. Future research should focus on the effect of metastatic lesion–targeting therapeutic interventions on seizure control in these patients.