Whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) after resection of a single brain metastasis can cause long-term radiation toxicity. The authors evaluated the efficacy of resection and placement of 125I seeds (without concomitant WBRT) for newly diagnosed single brain metastases.
In a retrospective review from two institutions (1997–2003), 15 women and 11 men (mean age 55 years) with single brain metastasis underwent gross-total resection and placement of permanent low-activity 125I seeds. Primary systemic cancer sites varied. Patients were monitored clinically and radiographically. With neuroimaging evidence of local recurrence or new distant metastasis, further treatment was administered at the physician's discretion. By the median follow-up evaluation (12 months), the local tumor control rate was 96%. Distant metastases occurred in three patients within 3 months, suggesting synchronous metastasis, and in six patients more than 3 months after treatment, indicating metachronous metastasis. Treatment in these cases included radio-surgery in seven patients, WBRT in two, and resection together with 125I seed placement in one. Two patients who suffered radiation necrosis required operative intervention (lesion diameter > 3 cm, total activity > 40 mCi). All 26 patients who had been treated using resection and placement of 125I seeds had a stable or an improved Karnofsky Performance Scale score. At the last review, nine of 16 living patients showed no evidence of treatment failure. The median actuarial survival rate was 17.8 months (Kaplan–Meier method).
Permanent 125I brachytherapy applied at the initial operation without WBRT provided excellent local tumor control. Local control and patient survival rates were at least as good as those reported for resection combined with WBRT. Although the authors noted a higher incidence of distant metastases compared with that reported in other studies of initial WBRT, these metastases were generally well controlled with a combination of surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery, and, less often, WBRT. Twenty-four patients (92%) never required WBRT, thus avoiding potential long-term radiation-induced neurotoxicity.