Gamma knife surgery for the treatment of intracranial metastases from breast cancer

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Neurosurgery








Brain metastasis; Breast cancer; Gamma knife


Object. The goal of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness and limitations of gamma knife surgery (GKS) in the treatment of intracranial breast carcinoma lesions. Methods. A retrospective analysis of the GKS database at the University of Virginia Health System identified 43 patients with a total of 84 lesions who were treated between 1989 and 2000. All patients who received treatment were included in this study. Imaging studies were available in 35 patients with 67 treated lesions. The overall duration of median survival was 13 months (95% confidence interval [CI] 7-16 months) after radiosurgery. A univariable Cox regression analysis revealed that a single lesion (p = 0.035), a high Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) score (p = 0.019), and a high Score Index for Radiosurgery (SIR) in Brain Metastases (p = 0.036) were associated with a significantly lengthened time to local treatment failure. The median duration of survival for patients grouped according to the SIR as low, middle, and high was 3, 8, and 21 months, respectively (p = 0.00033). A multivariable analysis showed that a high KPS score (p = 0.006), a high SIR (p = 0.014), and advanced age (0.038) were predictive of survival. The 1-, 2-, 3-, and 5-year survival rates were 49, 23, 12, and 2%, respectively. The overall median time to local treatment failure was 10 months (95% CI 6-14 months) after GKS. A univariable analysis demonstrated that a single lesion, higher KPS score, and a higher SIR were associated with a significantly longer time until local treatment failure. A multivariable analysis showed that a higher KPS score and SIR and patients who had received chemotherapy were associated with a significantly longer time to local treatment failure. Neuroimaging scores given for the enhancement pattern (ring-enhancing, heterogeneous, and homogeneous signal), amount of necrosis (none, < 50%, and > 50%), and mass effect (none, mild, moderate, and severe) of each treated lesion did not correlate with survival or local treatment failure. Conclusions. The SIR and the KPS score are prognostic factors in patients whose intracranial breast cancer metastases are treated with GKS. The SIR, which includes the KPS score, patient age, systemic disease status, largest lesion volume, and number of lesions, can be used to identify those patients with breast cancer metastasis who would benefit from GKS better than KPS score alone. The contribution of whole-brain radiation therapy to GKS with regard to local tumor control or survival could not be identified.

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