Survival and quality of life after whole brain radiotherapy with 3D conformal boost in the treatment of brain metastases
Background. Brain metastases are the most frequent intracranial neoplasms in adults. Although overall survival (OS) is an important endpoint in patients receiving radiotherapy, given their poor life expectancy in general, quality of life is becoming an increasingly useful endpoint. Objectives: to evaluate whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) with 3D conformal boost in brain metastases patients with regard to OS and quality of life.
Methods. During April 2015-May 2017, a total of 35 patients with ≤5, previously untreated, inoperable brain metastases were included prospectively. All patients underwent WBRT followed by 3D conformal boost to the metastatic lesions. EORTC quality of life questionnaires QLQ-C30 and QLQ-BN20 were used at baseline and at end of treatment. The mean initial and final scores were compared using Student test. One-year OS with brain metastases was computed with Kaplan Maier method.
Results. Median survival with brain metastases was 4.43 months (0.73-78.53). The one-year OS for patients with one metastasis was 42% versus 15% for more than one (p<0.04). The presence of extracerebral metastases significantly decreased OS from 39% without extracerebral metastases to 19%. (p<0.05). Quality of life improved significantly in several functional domains: physical (48 vs 60.29), role functioning (28.1 vs 44.7), emotional (47.1 vs 80.2), global health status (40.9 vs 62.3). Symptom scores decreased significantly in most items, corresponding to an improvement in the symptom burden: headache (61.9 vs 0.9), nausea and vomiting (45.7 vs 7.1), visual disorder (26.3 vs 9.2), seizures (30.4 vs 0.9), motor dysfunction (46.6 vs 17.1). Symptom scores for fatigue and drowsiness increased significantly (51.1 vs 74.9, respectively 37.1 vs 70.4), indicating worsening of symptoms.
Conclusions. WBRT with 3D conformal boost is a feasible technique which improves quality of life in brain metastases patients. Since survival is limited, the assessment of quality of life is a good indicator of the treatment outcome.