Prognostic index to identify patients who may not benefit from whole brain radiotherapy for multiple brain metastases from lung cancer


  • P Sundaresan BSc (Hons), MBBS;
    R Yeghiaian-Alvandi MBBS, FRANZCR, FAChPM; V Gebski BA, MStat.

  • Conflict of interest: None.

Dr Puma Sundaresan, Department of Radiation Oncology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, Sydney, NSW 2050, Australia.


Palliative whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) is often recommended in the management of multiple brain metastases. Allowing for WBRT waiting time, duration of the WBRT course and time to clinical response, it may take 6 weeks from the point of initial assessment for a benefit from WBRT to manifest. Patients who die within 6 weeks (‘early death’) may not benefit from WBRT and may instead experience a decline in quality of life. This study aimed to develop a prognostic index (PI) that identifies the subset of patients with lung cancer with multiple brain metastases who may not benefit from WBRT because of ‘early death’. The medical records of patients with lung cancer who had WBRT recommended for multiple brain metastases over a 10-year period were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were classified as either having died within 6 weeks or having lived beyond 6 weeks. Potential prognostic indicators were evaluated for correlation with ‘early death’. A PI was constructed by modelling the survival classification to determine the contribution of these factors towards shortened survival. Of the 275 patients recommended WBRT, 64 (23.22%) died within 6 weeks. The main prognostic factor predicting early death was Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) status >2. Patients with a high PI score (>13) were at higher risk of ‘early death’. Twenty-three per cent of patients died prior to benefit from WBRT. ECOG status was the most predictive for ‘early death’. Other factors may also contribute towards a poor outcome. With further refinement and validation, the PI could be a valuable clinical decision tool.