Aggressive Treatment of Primary Tumor in Patients With Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer and Exclusively Brain Metastases

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Abstract

Between 30% and 50% of patients with non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) will develop cerebral metastases in the course of their illness. As improvements are made in the local brain treatment, the question arises on how to manage patients with NSCLC who have solely stable brain metastatic disease and if treatment should be considered for the primary lung lesion. The present article will review published series of patients with NSCLC and with brain metastases treated with aggressive thoracic management, with either lung tumor resection or thoracic radiation with or without chemotherapy as definitive treatment. We will also assess which prognostic factors may be useful in the identification of the subset of patients who could benefit from this more aggressive approach. For patients treated with surgical resection for the primary lung tumor, median survival ranged from 19 to 27 months, and the 1-, 2-, and 5-year survival reached 56%-69%, 28%-54%, and 11%-24%, respectively. Patients treated with aggressive radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy, achieved a median survival of 15.5-31.8 months, with a 1-year survival of 50%-71%, and a 2-year survival of 16%-60%. Well-selected patients with NSCLC and with exclusively oligometastatic cerebral disease represent a subgroup of patients with stage IV NSCLC that might achieve long-term survival after treatment directed to the brain and lung tumor lesions. Patients with N0 or N1 disease may be selected for surgical thoracic treatment, whereas those with N2 or N3 disease may benefit from combined chemoradiotherapy in the absence of progression after induction chemotherapy.

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