Number of metastases, serum lactate dehydrogenase level, and type of treatment are prognostic factors in patients with brain metastases of malignant melanoma


  • See editorial and companion articles on pages 1560-4, 1687-96, and 1711-20, this issue.

  • Published in part in abstract form at Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, May 29-June 2, 2009, Orlando, FL



This multicenter study aimed to identify prognostic factors in patients with brain metastases from malignant melanoma (BM-MM).


In a retrospective survey in 9 cancer centers of the German Cancer Society, 692 patients were identified with BM-MM during the period 1986 through 2007. Overall survival was analyzed using a Kaplan-Meier estimator and compared with log-rank analysis. Cox proportional hazards models were used to identify prognostic factors significant for survival.


The median overall survival of the entire cohort was 5.0 months (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 4 months-5 months). Significant prognostic factors in the univariate Kaplan-Meier analysis were Karnofsky performance status (≥70% vs <70%; P < .001), number of BM-MM (single vs multiple; P < .001), pretreatment levels of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) (normal vs elevated; P < .001) and S-100 (normal vs elevated; P < .001), prognostic groups according to Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (class I vs class II vs class III; P = .0485), and treatment choice (for the cohort with single BM-MM only) (stereotactic radiotherapy or neurosurgical metastasectomy vs others; P = .036). Cox proportional hazards models revealed pretreatment elevated level of serum LDH (hazard ratio [HR], 1.6; 95% CI, 1.3-2.0 [P = .00013]) and number of BM-MM (HR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.3-2.0 [P = .00011]) to be independent prognostic variables in the entire cohort, whereas in patients with a single BM-MM, treatment choice (HR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1-1.9 [P = .0061]) was identified as a unique prognostic factor.


The overall survival of patients with BM-MM primarily depends on the number of metastases and pretreatment level of LDH. In the case of a single brain metastasis, stereotactic radiotherapy or neurosurgical metastasectomy is by far the most important factor for improving survival. Cancer 2011. © 2010 American Cancer Society.