Background: The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program recently released data on brain metastases (BM) diagnosed during primary cancer staging workup ("synchronous" BM, or SBM); this study examines the incidence of SBM compared with that of lifetime BM (LBM) identified using Medicare claims for patients diagnosed with lung cancer, breast cancer, or melanoma. Methods: Incidence proportions (IP) and age-adjusted rates for each of SEER SBM and Medicare LBM are presented along with measures of concordance between the two sources of data, where Medicare LBM were defined by several combinations of diagnosis and putative diagnostic imaging procedure codes. Results: The SBM IP in lung, breast, and melanoma cancers were 9.6%, 0.3%, and 1.1%, respectively; the corresponding LBM IP were 13.5%, 1.8%, and 3.6%. The greatest SBM IP among patients with lung cancer was 13.4% for non–small cell lung cancer, and among patients with breast cancer was 0.7% for triple-negative breast cancer. The greatest LBM IP among lung cancers was 23.1% in small-cell lung cancer, and among breast cancers was 4.2% for cases of the triple negative subtype. Conclusions: Using a large dataset that is representative of the elderly population in the United States, these analyses estimate synchronous and lifetime incidence of BM in lung cancers, breast cancers, and melanomas. Impact: These and other population-based estimates may be used to guide development of BM screening policy and evaluation of real-world data sources.
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