Primary intracranial malignant melanoma: proposed treatment protocol and overall survival in a single-institution series of 15 cases combined with 100 cases from the literature

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The overall survival and pertinent adverse factors for primary intracranial malignant melanoma (PIMM) have not been previously determined. This aim of this study was to determine the rates of progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) and identify the adverse factors for PIMM.


This study included 15 cases from the authors’ own series and 100 cases with detailed clinical data that were obtained from the literature from 1914 to 2018 using the Ovid Medline, EMBASE, PubMed, Cochrane, and EBSCO databases. Patient demographics, treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy [RT]), PFS, and OS were reviewed. Data from prior publications were processed and used according to PRISMA guidelines.


Diffuse lesions were identified in 24 (20.9%) patients, who had a younger age (p < 0.001). The mean follow-up time was 16.6 months, and 76 (66.1%) deaths occurred. The 6-month, 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year OS rates of the whole cohort were 62.8%, 49.9%, 28.9%, and 17.2%, respectively, with an estimated median survival time (EMST) of 12.0 months. The multivariate analysis revealed that gross-total resection (GTR) (HR 0.299, 95% CI 0.180–0.497, p < 0.001), radiotherapy (HR 0.577, 95% CI 0.359–0.929, p = 0.024), and chemotherapy (HR 0.420, 95% CI 0.240–0.735, p = 0.002) predicted a better OS. The EMST was 5.0 months in patients with diffuse-type PIMM and 13.0 months in patients with the solitary type. Patients receiving GTR with adjuvant RT and/or chemotherapy (GTR + [RT and/or chemo]) had significantly higher 1-year and 5-year OS rates (73.0% and 40.1%, respectively) and a longer EMST (53 months) than patients who underwent GTR alone (20.5 months) or RT and/or chemotherapy without GTR (13.0 months).


Optimal outcomes could be achieved by radical resection plus postoperative radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. Patients with diffuse PIMM have a more severe clinical spectrum and poorer survival than patients with solitary PIMM. Immunotherapy and targeted therapy show promise as treatment options for PIMM based on results in patients with brain metastases from extracranial melanoma.

ABBREVIATIONS CI = confidence interval; CNS = central nervous system; CSF = cerebrospinal fluid; EMST = estimated median survival time; GTR = gross-total resection; HR = hazard ratio; ICI = immune checkpoint inhibitor; IQR = interquartile range; OS = overall survival; PFS = progression-free survival; PIMM = primary intracranial malignant melanoma; RT = radiotherapy; SRS = stereotactic radiosurgery; STR = subtotal resection; VP = ventriculoperitoneal; WBRT = whole-brain radiotherapy.

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Contributor Notes

Correspondence Zhen Wu: Beijing Tiantan Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, People’s Republic of China. WHEN CITING Published online March 1, 2019; DOI: 10.3171/2018.11.JNS181872.

C.B.L., L.R.S., and D.L. contributed equally to this work.

Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.


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