Whether to administer or omit adjuvant whole-brain radiation therapy in conjunction with stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) in the initial management of patients with one to three newly diagnosed brain metastases is the subject of debate. This report provides data from a pilot study in which neurocognitive function (NCF) was prospectively measured for patients with one to three newly diagnosed brain metastases treated with initial SRS alone.METHODS
Fifteen patients were prospectively treated with initial SRS alone. Assessment of NCF and magnetic resonance imaging scans were performed.RESULTS
At baseline, 67% of the patients had impairment on one or more tests of NCF. The domains most frequently impaired at baseline were executive function, motor dexterity, and learning/memory with an incidence of 50, 40, and 27% respectively. Brain metastasis volume (.3 cm3) measured at the time of initial SRS treatment was associated with worse performance on a measure of attention (P < 0.05). At 1 month, declines in the learning/memory and motor dexterity domains were most common. In a subgroup of five patients still alive 200 days after enrollment, four patients (80%) demonstrated stable or improved learning/memory, three (60%) demonstrated stable or improved executive function, and three (60%) demonstrated stable or improved motor dexterity relative to their baseline evaluation.CONCLUSION
Although two-thirds of the brain metastasis patients had impaired NCF at baseline, the majority of five long-term survivors had stable or improved NCF performance across executive function, learning/memory, and motor dexterity.