Current guidelines primarily suggest resection of brain metastases (BMs) in patients with limited lesions. With a growing number of highly effective local and systemic treatment options, this view may be challenged. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of metastasectomy, disregarding BM count, in a comprehensive treatment setting.
In this monocentric retrospective analysis, the authors included patients who underwent resection for at least 1 BM and collected demographic, clinical, and tumor-associated parameters. Prognostic factors for local control and overall survival (OS) were analyzed with the log-rank test and Cox proportional hazards analysis.
The authors analyzed 216 patients. One hundred twenty-nine (59.7%) patients were diagnosed with a single/solitary BM, whereas 64 (29.6%) patients had 2–3 BMs and the remaining 23 (10.6%) had more than 3 BMs. With resection of symptomatic BMs, a significant improvement in Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) was achieved (p < 0.001), thereby enabling adjuvant radiotherapy for 199 (92.1%) patients and systemic treatment for 119 (55.1%) patients. During follow-up, 83 (38.4%) patients experienced local recurrence. BM count did not significantly influence local control rates. By the time of analysis, 120 (55.6%) patients had died; the leading cause of death was systemic tumor progression. The mean (range) OS after surgery was 12.7 (0–88) months. In univariate analysis, the BM count did not influence OS (p = 0.844), but age < 65 years (p = 0.007), preoperative and postoperative KPS ≥ 70 (p = 0.002 and p = 0.005, respectively), systemic metastases other than BM (p = 0.004), adjuvant radiation therapy (p < 0.001), and adjuvant systemic treatment (p < 0.001) were prognostic factors. In regression analysis, the presence of extracranial metastases (HR 2.30, 95% CI 1.53–3.48, p < 0.001), adjuvant radiation therapy (HR 0.97, 95% CI 0.23–0.86, p = 0.016), and adjuvant systemic treatment (HR 0.37, 95% CI 0.25–0.55, p < 0.001) remained as independent factors for survival.
Surgery for symptomatic BM from non–small cell lung cancer may be indicated even for patients with multiple lesions in order to alleviate their neurological symptoms and to consequently facilitate further treatment.