Long-term survival in patients with brain metastases
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Purpose. The aims of this study are: (a) to determine long-term survival in patients with brain metastases who underwent whole brain radiation therapy; (b) to evaluate whether long-term survival can be predicted by the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) recursive partitioning analysis (RPA); and (c) to review the literature on long-term survival.
Material and methods. The records of 916 patients with brain metastases who underwent whole brain radiation therapy at our hospital from 1985 to 2000 were analyzed retrospectively.
Results. By July 2001, 891 patients had died. Median survival of the whole group was 3.4 months. Overall survival was 5.6% at 2 years (at risk: n=48), 2.9% at 3 years (n=25), 1.8% at 5 years (n=12), and <1% at 10 years (n=1). Survival for 2 years or more was observed in RTOG RPA class 1, but also in class 2 patients. Within both classes, survival was significantly better for patients with a single brain metastasis compared with those patients having multiple metastases. A survey of the literature revealed that in rare instances survival of 10 years or more was seen in patients with brain metastases. The majority of these patients had a single brain metastasis treated by radical resection and whole brain radiation therapy.
Conclusion. Even in patients with favorable characteristics, survival for 2 years or more after the diagnosis of brain metastases is considerably low. Aggressive therapy in RPA class 1 and class 2 patients with a single brain metastasis occasionally permits long-term survival.
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