Medline: 1325541

Journal of Clinical Oncology 10(9): 1498-1502, 1992.

Systemic chemotherapy of brain metastases from small-cell lung cancer: a review.

Kristensen CA, Kristjansen PE, Hansen HH


For decades the treatment of choice in small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) with brain metastases has been corticosteroids and radiotherapy (RT) because of a presumed lack of penetrance of cytostatic agents into parenchymatous brain metastases. In recent years, several reports have appeared on radiologic and clinical responses to systemic chemotherapy without additional RT in patients with metastatic SCLC in the brain. We reviewed the literature and focused on the methodologic aspects in comparison with RT data. DESIGN: We reviewed 12 patient series that included 116 patients and were published between 1981 and 1990.

The overall brain response to chemotherapy without irradiation in patients with intracranial metastases at diagnosis was 76%, whereas the response rate of brain relapses was 43%.

We conclude that intracranial metastases from SCLC seem to respond to chemotherapy as readily as other metastatic locations of SCLC do. Thus first-line cranial irradiation probably should be applied routinely only in cases of delayed brain metastases. Whether consolidating cranial RT should be given after a few courses of initial chemotherapy in SCLC patients with brain metastases at diagnosis is unclear and warrants a randomized evaluation.

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Rheinische Friedrich- Wilhelms- Universität Bonn
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Dr. G. Quade