In the era in which more patients with greater numbers of brain metastases (BMs) are being treated with stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) alone, it is critical to understand how patient, tumor, and treatment factors affect functional status and overall survival (OS). The authors examined the survival outcomes and dosimetry to critical structures in patients treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) for ≥ 25 metastases in a single session or cumulatively over the course of their disease.
A retrospective analysis was conducted at a single institution. The institution’s prospective Gamma Knife (GK) SRS registry was queried to identify patients treated with GKRS for ≥ 25 cumulative BMs between June 2013 and April 2020. Ninety-five patients were identified, and their data were used for analysis. Treatment plans for dosimetric analysis were available for 89 patients. Patient, tumor, and treatment characteristics were identified, and outcomes and OS were evaluated.
The authors identified 1132 patients with BMs in their institutional registry. Ninety-five patients were treated for ≥ 25 cumulative metastases, resulting in a total of 3596 tumors treated during 373 separate treatment sessions. The median number of SRS sessions per patient was 3 (range 1–12 SRS sessions), with nearly all patients (n = 93, 98%) having > 1 session. On univariate analysis, factors affecting OS in a statistically significant manner included histology, tumor volume, tumor number, diagnosis-specific graded prognostic assessment (DS-GPA), brain metastasis velocity (BMV), and need for subsequent whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT). The median of the mean WB dose was 4.07 Gy (range 1.39–10.15 Gy). In the top quartile for both the highest cumulative number and highest cumulative volume of treated metastases, the median of the mean WB dose was 6.14 Gy (range 4.02–10.15 Gy). Seventy-nine patients (83%) had all treated tumors controlled at last follow-up, reflecting the high and durable control rate. Corticosteroids for tumor- or treatment-related effects were prescribed in just over one-quarter of the patients. Of the patients with radiographically proven adverse radiation effects (AREs; 15%), 4 were symptomatic. Four patients required subsequent craniotomy for hemorrhage, progression, or AREs.
In selected patients with a large number of cumulative BMs, multiple courses of SRS are feasible and safe. Together with new systemic therapies, the study results demonstrate that the achieved survival rates compare favorably to those of larger contemporary cohorts, while avoiding WBRT in the majority of patients. Therefore, along with the findings of other series, this study supports SRS as a standard practice in selected patients with larger numbers of BMs.