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Anna Likhacheva, Chelsea C. Pinnix, Neil Parikh, Pamela K. Allen, Nandita Guha-Thakurta, Mary McAleer, Erik P. Sulman, Anita Mahajan, Almon Shiu, Dershan Luo, Max Chiu, Paul D. Brown, Sujit S. Prabhu and Eric L. Chang


Brain metastases present a therapeutic challenge because patients with metastatic cancers live longer now than in the recent past due to systemic therapies that, while effective, may not penetrate the blood-brain barrier. In the present study the authors sought to validate the Diagnosis-Specific Graded Prognostic Assessment (DS-GPA), a new prognostic index that takes into account the histological characteristics of the primary tumor, and the Radiation Therapy Ontology Group Recursive Partitioning Analysis (RPA) system by using a single-institution database of patients who were treated initially with stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) alone for brain metastases.


Investigators retrospectively identified adult patients who had undergone SRS at a single institution, MD Anderson Cancer Center, for initial treatment of brain metastases between 2003 and 2010 but excluded those who had undergone craniotomy and/or whole-brain radiation therapy at an earlier time; the final number was 251. The Leksell Gamma Knife was used to treat 223 patients, and a linear accelerator was used to treat 28 patients. The patient population was grouped according to DS-GPA scores as follows: 0–0.5 (7 patients), 1 (33 patients), 1.5 (25 patients), 2 (63 patients), 2.5 (14 patients), 3 (68 patients), and 3.5–4 (41 patients). The same patients were also grouped according to RPA classes: 1 (24 patients), 2 (216 patients), and 3 (11 patients). The most common histological diagnoses were non–small cell lung cancer (34%), melanoma (29%), and breast carcinoma (16%). The median number of lesions was 2 (range 1–9) and the median total tumor volume was 0.9 cm3 (range 0.3–22.9 cm3). The median radiation dose was 20 Gy (range 14–24 Gy). Stereotactic radiosurgery was performed as the sole treatment (62% of patients) or combined with a salvage treatment consisting of SRS (22%), whole-brain radiation therapy (12%), or resection (4%). The median duration of follow-up was 9.4 months.


In this patient group the median overall survival was 11.1 months. The DS-GPA prognostic index divided patients into prognostically significant groups. Median survival times were 2.8 months for DS-GPA Scores 0–0.5, 3.9 months for Score 1, 6.6 months for Score 1.5, 12.9 months for Score 2, 11.9 months for Score 2.5, 12.2 months for Score 3, and 31.4 months for Scores 3.5–4 (p < 0.0001). In the RPA groups, the median overall survival times were 38.8 months for Class 1, 9.4 months for Class 2, and 2.8 months for Class 3 (p < 0.0001). Neither the RPA class nor the DS-GPA score was prognostic for local tumor control or new lesion–free survival. A multivariate analysis revealed that patient age > 60 years, Karnofsky Performance Scale score ≤ 80%, and total lesion volume > 2 cm3 were significant adverse prognostic factors for overall survival.


Application of the DS-GPA to a database of patients with brain metastases who were treated with SRS appears to be valid and offers additional prognostic refinement over that provided by the RPA. The DS-GPA may also allow for improved selection of patients to undergo initial SRS alone and should be studied further.

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Jack Phan, Courtney Pollard III, Paul D. Brown, Nandita Guha-Thakurta, Adam S. Garden, David I. Rosenthal, Clifton D. Fuller, Steven J. Frank, G. Brandon Gunn, William H. Morrison, Jennifer C. Ho, Jing Li, Amol J. Ghia, James N. Yang, Dershan Luo, He C. Wang, Shirley Y. Su, Shaan M. Raza, Paul W. Gidley, Ehab Y. Hanna and Franco DeMonte


The objective of this study was to assess outcomes after Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) re-irradiation for palliation of patients with trigeminal pain secondary to recurrent malignant skull base tumors.


From 2009 to 2016, 26 patients who had previously undergone radiation treatment to the head and neck received GKRS for palliation of trigeminal neuropathic pain secondary to recurrence of malignant skull base tumors. Twenty-two patients received single-fraction GKRS to a median dose of 17 Gy (range 15–20 Gy) prescribed to the 50% isodose line (range 43%–55%). Four patients received fractionated Gamma Knife Extend therapy to a median dose of 24 Gy in 3 fractions (range 21–27 Gy) prescribed to the 50% isodose line (range 45%–50%). Those with at least a 3-month follow-up were assessed for symptom palliation. Self-reported pain was evaluated by the numeric rating scale (NRS) and MD Anderson Symptom Inventory–Head and Neck (MDASI-HN) pain score. Frequency of as-needed (PRN) analgesic use and opioid requirement were also assessed. Baseline opioid dose was reported as a fentanyl-equivalent dose (FED) and PRN for breakthrough pain use as oral morphine-equivalent dose (OMED). The chi-square and Student t-tests were used to determine differences before and after GKRS.


Seven patients (29%) were excluded due to local disease progression. Two experienced progression at the first follow-up, and 5 had local recurrence from disease outside the GKRS volume. Nineteen patients were assessed for symptom palliation with a median follow-up duration of 10.4 months (range 3.0–34.4 months). At 3 months after GKRS, the NRS scores (n = 19) decreased from 4.65 ± 3.45 to 1.47 ± 2.11 (p < 0.001); MDASI-HN pain scores (n = 13) decreased from 5.02 ± 1.68 to 2.02 ± 1.54 (p < 0.01); scheduled FED (n = 19) decreased from 62.4 ± 102.1 to 27.9 ± 45.5 mcg/hr (p < 0.01); PRN OMED (n = 19) decreased from 43.9 ± 77.5 to 10.9 ± 20.8 mg/day (p = 0.02); and frequency of any PRN analgesic use (n = 19) decreased from 0.49 ± 0.55 to 1.33 ± 0.90 per day (p = 0.08). At 6 months after GKRS, 9 (56%) of 16 patients reported being pain free (NRS score 0), with 6 (67%) of the 9 being both pain free and not requiring analgesic medications. One patient treated early in our experience developed a temporary increase in trigeminal pain 3–4 days after GKRS requiring hospitalization. All subsequently treated patients were given a single dose of intravenous steroids immediately after GKRS followed by a 2–3-week oral steroid taper. No further cases of increased or new pain after treatment were observed after this intervention.


GKRS for palliation of trigeminal pain secondary to recurrent malignant skull base tumors demonstrated a significant decrease in patient-reported pain and opioid requirement. Additional patients and a longer follow-up duration are needed to assess durability of symptom relief and local control.