In 1999, the World Health Organization categorized large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma (LCNEC) of the lung as a variant of large cell carcinoma, and LCNEC now accounts for 3% of all lung cancers. Although LCNEC is categorized among the non–small cell lung cancers, its biological behavior has recently been suggested to be very similar to that of a small cell pulmonary malignancy. The clinical outcome for patients with LCNEC is generally poor, and the optimal treatment for this malignancy has not yet been established. Little information is available regarding management of LCNEC patients with brain metastases (METs). This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) for patients with brain METs from LCNEC.
The Japanese Leksell Gamma Knife Society planned this retrospective study in which 21 Gamma Knife centers in Japan participated. Data from 101 patients were reviewed for this study. Most of the patients with LCNEC were men (80%), and the mean age was 67 years (range 39–84 years). Primary lung tumors were reported as well controlled in one-third of the patients. More than half of the patients had extracranial METs. Brain metastasis and lung cancer had been detected simultaneously in 25% of the patients. Before GKRS, brain METs had manifested with neurological symptoms in 37 patients. Additionally, prior to GKRS, resection was performed in 17 patients and radiation therapy in 10. A small cell lung carcinoma–based chemotherapy regimen was chosen for 48 patients. The median lesion number was 3 (range 1–33). The median cumulative tumor volume was 3.5 cm3, and the median radiation dose was 20.0 Gy. For statistical analysis, the standard Kaplan-Meier method was used to determine post-GKRS survival. Competing risk analysis was applied to estimate GKRS cumulative incidences of maintenance of neurological function and death, local recurrence, appearance of new lesions, and complications.
The overall median survival time (MST) was 9.6 months. MSTs for patients classified according to the modified recursive partitioning analysis (RPA) system were 25.7, 11.0, and 5.9 months for Class 1+2a (20 patients), Class 2b (28), and Class 3 (46), respectively. At 12 months after GKRS, neurological death–free and deterioration–free survival rates were 93% and 87%, respectively. Follow-up imaging studies were available in 78 patients. The tumor control rate was 86% at 12 months after GKRS.
The present study suggests that GKRS is an effective treatment for LCNEC patients with brain METs, particularly in terms of maintaining neurological status.