Skip to main content

22-08-2017 | CNS metastases | Article

Survival and level of care among breast cancer patients with brain metastases treated with whole brain radiotherapy

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

Authors: Gabriella Frisk, Beatrice Tinge, Sara Ekberg, Sandra Eloranta, L. Magnus Bäcklund, Elisabet Lidbrink, Karin E. Smedby

Publisher: Springer US



The benefit of whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) for late stage breast cancer patients with brain metastases has been questioned. In this study we evaluated survival and level of care (hospital or home) following WBRT in a population-based cohort by personal and tumor characteristics.


We identified 241 consecutive patients with breast cancer and brain metastases receiving WBRT in Stockholm, Sweden, 1999–2012. Through review of medical records, we collected data on prognostic determinants including level of care before and after WBRT. Survival was estimated using Cox regression, and odds ratios (OR) of not coming home using logistic regression.


Median age at WBRT was 58 years (range 30--–88 years). Most patients (n = 212, 88%) were treated with 4 Gray × 5. Median survival following WBRT was 2.9 months (interquartile range 1.1–6.6 months), and 57 patients (24%) were never discharged from hospital. Poor performance status and triple-negative tumors were associated with short survival (WHO 3–4 median survival 0.9 months, HR = 5.96 (3.88–9.17) versus WHO 0–1; triple-negative tumors median survival 2.0 months, HR = 1.87 (1.23–2.84) versus Luminal A). Poor performance status and being hospitalized before WBRT were associated with increased ORs of not coming home whereas cohabitation with children at home was protective.


Survival was short following WBRT, and one in four breast cancer patients with brain metastases could never be discharged from hospital. When deciding about WBRT, WHO score, level of care before WBRT, and the patient’s choice of level of care in the end-of-life period should be considered.

Please log in to get access to this content

Related topics