Stereotactic radiosurgery for brain metastases from primary head and neck carcinomas: a retrospective analysis

Rajal A. Patel, Jonathan B. Bell, Thomas Kim, Mark Agulnik, James P. Chandler, Bharat B. Mittal, Tim J. Kruser*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Patients with head and neck malignancies commonly develop metastatic disease, yet rarely do these carcinomas metastasize to the brain. Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is routinely employed to treat brain metastases (BM). This study was undertaken to examine the efficacy of SRS for BM from primary head and neck carcinomas. From 2000 to 2016, a total of 19 patients with 38 lesions were retrospectively identified. All patients presented with a primary head and neck malignancy and subsequently developed metastatic disease to the brain treated with SRS at our institution. Actuarial rates for overall survival (OS), local control (LC) and distant brain metastases (DBM) were calculated using Kaplan–Meier estimates. Median follow up was 6.8 months and median survival was 15.8 months. Eleven lesions received post-operative SRS to a surgical cavity and 27 lesions received definitive SRS to a metastasis. The median dose prescribed was 18 Gy. One-year actuarial rate for LC was 77.3% (95% confidence interval [CI] 44–92%) while 1 year and 2 year rates of OS were 52.9% (CI 28–73%) and 31.7% (CI 11–55%) respectively. The median time to develop DBM was 8.4 months. Three patients (16%) underwent repeat SRS following development of new BM and three patients (16%) underwent salvage whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT). SRS may be utilized in the treatment of patients with primary head and neck malignancies metastasized to the brain with high efficacy. Patients with well-controlled systemic disease and good performance status may benefit the most from definitive SRS while avoiding WBRT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-203
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuro-Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Brain metastases
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Radiotherapy
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cancer Research

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