Linear accelerator-based stereotactic radiosurgery for brainstem metastases: the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center experience
To review the safety and efficacy of linear accelerator-based stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) for brainstem metastases. We reviewed all patients with brain metastases treated with SRS at DF/BWCC from 2001 to 2009 to identify patients who had SRS to a single brainstem metastasis. Overall survival and freedom-from-local failure rates were calculated from the date of SRS using the Kaplan–Meier method. Prognostic factors were evaluated using the log-rank test and Cox proportional hazards model. A total of 24 consecutive patients with brainstem metastases had SRS. At the time of SRS, 21/24 had metastatic lesions elsewhere within the brain. 23/24 had undergone prior WBRT. Primary diagnoses included eight NSCLC, eight breast cancer, three melanoma, three renal cell carcinoma and two others. Median dose was 13 Gy (range, 8–16). One patient had fractionated SRS 5 Gy ×5. Median target volume was 0.2 cc (range, 0.02–2.39). The median age was 57 years (range, 42–92). Follow-up information was available in 22/24 cases. At the time of analysis, 18/22 patients (82%) had died. The median overall survival time was 5.3 months (range, 0.8–21.1 months). The only prognostic factor that trended toward statistical significance for overall survival was the absence of synchronous brain metastasis at the time of SRS; 1-year overall survival was 31% with versus 67% without synchronous brain metastasis (log rank P = 0.11). Non-significant factors included primary tumor histology and status of extracranial disease (progressing vs. stable/absent). Local failure occurred in 4/22 cases (18%). Actuarial freedom from local failure for all cases was 78.6% at 1 year. RTOG grade 3 toxicities were recorded in two patients (ataxia, confusion). Linac-based SRS for small volume brainstem metastases using a median dose of 13 Gy is associated with acceptable local control and low morbidity.