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Keywords:

  • adenocarcinoma;
  • neoplastic meningitis;
  • leptomeningeal carcinomatosis;
  • gastrointestinal carcinoma

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Neoplastic meningitis (NM) occurs in 5–10% of patients with malignant disease. Little is known about the outcomes of patients with gastrointestinal (GI) malignancies who develop NM. For this report, the authors characterized the clinical course and attempted to identify prognostic factors in patients with NM due to primary malignancies of the GI tract.

METHODS

In this retrospective study, 21 patients with GI primary tumors and NM were identified: Their medical records and imaging studies were reviewed.

RESULTS

The patient population was composed of patients with gastric adenocarcinoma (n = 8 patients), esophageal adenocarcinoma (n = 7 patients), colon and/or rectal adenocarcinoma (n = 5 patients), and pancreatic adenocarcinoma (n = 1 patient). The median overall survival after the initial diagnosis of adenocarcinoma was 55 weeks (range, 8–884 wks), and the median survival after the diagnosis of NM was 7 weeks (range, 0–64 wks). Four patients died during palliative radiotherapy. No factors identified had an impact on outcome, including symptoms, physical findings at diagnosis, imaging characteristics, or cerebrospinal fluid findings. Univariate analysis showed a trend toward better outcomes for patients who received any kind of treatment directed toward the NM.

CONCLUSIONS

Patients with NM from GI tract adenocarcinomas universally had poor outcomes. Until NM can be diagnosed earlier and/or until more effective therapies are identified, comfort care alone may be a reasonable alternative for some of these unfortunate patients. Cancer 2005. © 2005 American Cancer Society.