Population-based Analysis of Treatment and Survival in Women Presenting With Brain Metastasis at Initial Breast Cancer Diagnosis

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Brain metastasis at initial breast cancer diagnosis is rare. This study aims to evaluate the clinical characteristics of these patients and identify prognostic and treatment factors associated with improved survival.


Subjects were 35 women referred from 1996 to 2005 with newly diagnosed breast cancer with synchronous brain metastasis. Overall survival (OS) and brain progression-free survival were examined using Kaplan-Meier methods and compared between subgroups with different clinicopathologic and treatment characteristics using log-rank tests.


Median age was 65 years. Whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) alone was used in 25 patients, surgical resection and postoperative WBRT in 5 patients, and no or unknown treatment in 5 patients. Patients who underwent cranial resection were more likely to have solitary brain metastasis (P=0.003) and no visceral involvement (P=0.006). Overall, median OS was 6.8 months and median brain progression-free survival was 6.5 months (range, 0.7 to 54 mo). Median OS were 15 months with surgery and postoperative WBRT, 5 months with WBRT alone, and 3 months with no brain treatment. Longer OS was observed with age below 65 years versus 65 years and above (11 vs. 5 mo, P=0.046), 0 to 1 versus ≥2 sites of extracranial metastasis (10 vs. 3 mo, P=0.047), and diagnosis from 2001 to 2005 versus 1996 to 2000 (10 vs. 3 mo, P=0.018). A trend toward improved OS was observed in patients with no visceral involvement (11 vs. 4 mo, P=0.09).


In this unique cohort presenting with breast cancer and synchronous brain metastasis, longer survival were observed with young age, limited extracranial metastasis, and no visceral disease. These characteristics may be used to select candidates for more aggressive treatment.

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