• solid tumor;
  • brain metastases;
  • child;
  • relapse



Brain metastases are uncommon among children with solid tumors. However, improvements in survival have increased the period of time during which children are at risk for developing these metastases. The authors reviewed brain metastases in children with solid tumors treated at the Centre Léon Bérard during the 9 years between 1987 and 1995.


Among 486 patients with solid tumors, 162 eventually developed distant metastases in their disease process, including 12 brain metastases detected by imaging. The tumor type, clinical setting, imaging characteristics, treatment modalities, and outcome were assessed for each patient.


The most common tumors causing brain metastases were Ewing's sarcoma (in three patients), neuroblastoma (in three patients), and osteogenic sarcoma (in three patients). At the time of initial diagnosis, 9 of the 12 patients had metastatic disease. All but one patient initially received intensive multiagent chemotherapy, including high dose chemotherapy with bone marrow rescue in six patients. The median time from initial diagnosis to the detection of brain metastases was 15 months. These metastases were clinically detectable in 10 patients and subclinical in 2 patients. Brain metastases were present at the time of first relapse in five patients. In two patients, the brain was the only site of relapse. All other patients had extensive systemic disease. Seven patients had multiple brain metastases. Two children underwent surgical resection of solitary metastases, and eight were irradiated. One child achieved complete remission following chemotherapy and irradiation. All other children died, mostly of their systemic disease, within a median period of 3 months.


The introduction of effective systemic chemotherapy has changed the patterns of brain metastases in children. The increasing incidence of these metastases in patients with sarcoma and neuroblastoma suggests that the brain is a pharmacologically protected site in patients initially diagnosed with metastatic disease. Cancer 1997; 79:403-10. © 1997 American Cancer Society.