Irish Journal of Medical Science (1971 -)

, Volume 184, Issue 3, pp 673–675 | Cite as

Brain metastasis from colorectal carcinoma: a single cancer centre experience

  • R. Tevlin
  • J. O. Larkin
  • J. M. Hyland
  • P. R. O’Connell
  • D. C. Winter
Original Article



Brain metastases (BM) from colorectal cancer (CRC) are rare. As survival increases in patients with metastatic CRC, it is hypothesised that new metastatic patterns will emerge: for instance, as CRC with limited metastatic involvement of the liver and lung can now be successfully resected, we propose that sites, previously rarely involved in metastatic spread, will become more common. The objective of this study was to describe the experience with BM from CRC in a single cancer centre.


A prospectively compiled database (1988–2012) of patients with CRC treated in a tertiary referral hospital was retrospectively examined. Patients with a histological diagnosis of CRC and radiologically documented BM were included. Clinical information (including patient demographics, primary and metastatic disease factors) was obtained from medical records.


Eleven patients (0.3 % of 4219 patients) were identified (8 male, 3 female). The median age at CRC diagnosis was 70 years (range 55–80 years) while the median age at diagnosis of BM was 73 years (range 56–83 years). Three patients diagnosed with synchronous metastases underwent palliative treatment while eight patients had undergone surgical resection of the primary tumour with curative intent a median of 24 months (range 0–48 months) prior to diagnosis of BM. 10/11 patients were symptomatic at diagnosis of BM. All were diagnosed using computed tomography and managed palliatively. The cerebellum was most the frequently involved site. The median overall survival time following diagnosis of BM was 2.5 months (range 2–9 months). Notably, 8/11 patients were diagnosed in the latter 8 years of the study period (between 2004 and 2012).


With increased survival, improved systemic therapy and aggressive approaches to surgical management of “classical” metastases from CRC, it is likely that a changing pattern of metastases will emerge. As survival rates increase, we propose that metastatic sites, which were previously considered rare (e.g. brain), will now become more common and thus, surgeons must recognise pertinent symptomatology.


Brain metastases Colorectal cancer Colorectal metastases 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Tevlin
    • 1
  • J. O. Larkin
    • 1
  • J. M. Hyland
    • 1
  • P. R. O’Connell
    • 1
  • D. C. Winter
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Colorectal DiseaseSt. Vincent’s University HospitalDublinIreland

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