The authors present a retrospective analysis of a single-center experience with treatment of brain metastases using Gamma Knife (GK) and linear accelerator (LINAC)–based radiosurgery and compare the results.
From July 2010 to July 2012, 63 patients with brain metastases were treated with radiosurgery. Among them, 28 (with 83 lesions) were treated with a GK unit and 35 (with 47 lesions) with a LINAC. The primary outcome was local progression–free survival (LPFS), evaluated on a per-lesion basis. The secondary outcome was overall survival (OS), evaluated per patient. Statistical analysis included standard tests and Cox regression with shared-frailty models to account for the within-patient correlation.
The mean follow-up period was 11.7 months (median 7.9 months, range 1.7–32 months) for GK and 18.1 months (median 17 months, range 7.5–28.7 months) for LINAC. The median number of lesions per patient was 2.5 (range 1–9) in the GK group and 1 (range 1–3) in the LINAC group (p < 0.01, 2-sample t-test). There were more radioresistant lesions (e.g., melanoma) and more lesions located in functional areas in the GK group. Additional technical reasons for choosing GK instead of LINAC were limitations of LINAC movements, especially if lesions were located in the lower posterior fossa or multiple lesions were close to highly functional areas (e.g., the brainstem), precluding optimal dosimetry with LINAC. The median marginal dose was 24 Gy with GK and 20 Gy with LINAC (p < 0.01, 2-sample t-test). For GK, the actuarial LPFS rate at 3, 6, 9, 12, and 17 months was 96.96%, 96.96%, 96.96%, 88.1%, and 81.5%, remaining stable until 32 months. For LINAC the rate at 3, 6, 12, 17, 24, and 33 months was 91.5%, 91.5%, 91.5%, 79.9%, 55.5%, and 17.1% (log-rank p = 0.03). In the Cox regression with shared-frailty model, the risk of local progression in the LINAC group was almost twice that of the GK group (HR 1.92, p > 0.05). The mean OS was 16.0 months (95% CI 11.2–20.9 months) in the GK group, compared with 20.9 months (95% CI 16.4–25.3 months) in the LINAC group. Univariate and multivariate analysis showed that a lower graded prognostic assessment (GPA) score, noncontrolled systemic status at last radiological assessment, and older age were associated with lower OS; after adjustment of these covariables by Cox regression, the OS was similar in the 2 groups.
In this retrospective study comparing GK and LINAC-based radiosurgery for brain metastases, patients with more severe disease were treated by GK, including those harboring lesions of greater number, of radioresistant type, or in highly functional areas. The risk of local progression for the LINAC group was almost twice that in the GK group, although the difference was not statistically significant. Importantly, the OS rates were similar for the 2 groups, although GK was used in patients with more complex brain metastatic disease and with no other therapeutic alternative.