Whole-brain radiotherapy with 20 Gy in 5 fractions for brain metastases in patients with cancer of unknown primary (CUP)

Dirk Rades*, Guenther Bohlen, Radka Lohynska, Theo Veninga, Lukas J.A. Stalpers, Steven E. Schild, Juergen Dunst

*Corresponding author for this work
21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) is the most common treatment for brain metastases. Survival of patients with cancer of unknown primary (CUP) presenting with brain metastases is extremely poor. A radiation program with a short overall treatment time (short-course RT) would be preferable to longer programs if it provides similar outcomes. This study compares short-course RT with 20 Gy in 5 fractions (5 × 4 Gy) given over 5 days to longer programs in CUP patients. Patients and Methods: Data regarding 101 CUP patients who received either short course WBRT (n = 34) with 5 × 4 Gy or longcourse WBRT (n = 67) with 10 × 3 Gy given over 2 weeks or 20 × 2 Gy given over 4 weeks for brain metastases were analyzed retrospectively. Six additional potential prognostic factors were investigated: age, gender, Karnofsky performance score (KPS), number of brain metastases, extracranial metastases, RPA-(Recursive Partitioning Analysis-)class. Results: On univariate analysis, the radiation program was not associated with survival (p = 0.88) nosr intracerebral control (p = 0.36). Improved survival was associated with KPS ≥ 70 (p < 0.001), absence of extracranial metastases (p < 0.001), and RPA-class 1 (p < 0.001). On multivariate analyses, KPS (risk ratio [RR]: 4.55; p < 0.001), extracranial metastases (RR: 1.70; p = 0.018), and RPA-class (RR: 2.86; p < 0.001) maintained significance. On univariate analysis, KPS (p < 0.001) and RPA-class (p < 0.001) were significantly associated with intracerebral control. On multivariate analyses, KPS (RR: 2.72; p < 0.001) and RPAclass (RR: 2.09; p < 0.001) remained significant. Conclusion: Short-course WBRT with 5 × 4 Gy provided similar intracerebral control and survival as longer programs for the treatment of brain metastases in CUP patients. 5 × 4 Gy appears preferable because it is more convenient for patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalStrahlentherapie und Onkologie
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)631-636
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 11.2007


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