To elucidate treatment patterns and their outcomes in patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and brain metastasis (BM).
In this retrospective study, patients with SCLC and BM were stratified by treatment modality into three groups: those treated with systemic therapy only, those treated with stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and systemic therapy, and those treated with whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) and systemic therapy. The primary outcomes were overall survival (OS) and time to central nervous system progression (TTCP).
The analysis included 149 patients. After BM diagnosis, 48 patients (32.2%) received systemic therapy alone, 33 received SRS with systemic therapy, and 68 received WBRT with systemic therapy. The median OS and TTCP were 7.2 months and 8.7 months, respectively. Patients receiving WBRT with systemic therapy exhibited better intracranial control, but not better OS, than did the other patients. Key prognostic factors affecting OS were age, BM lesion count, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Notably, the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status and BM lesion count significantly influenced intracranial control in patients treated with SRS and systemic therapy.
Although WBRT combined with systemic therapy offer better intracranial control in patients with SCLC and BM, this approach is not superior to the other approaches in terms of OS benefits. Emerging systemic therapies, such as immunotherapy, may be used as alternative or adjunctive treatments for specific patient populations. Further studies are warranted to refine treatment selection.