Time Interval to Initiation of Whole-Brain Radiation Therapy in Patients With Small Cell Lung Cancer With Brain Metastasis

Neil Chevli, Andrew Hunt, Waqar Haque, Andrew M. Farach, Jay A. Messer, Suporn Sukpraprut-Braaten, Eric H. Bernicker, Jun Zhang, E. Brian Butler, Bin S. Teh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: Patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) who have brain metastases require whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT). When there is no emergent indication for WBRT, patients may receive systemic therapy first and WBRT afterward. In scenarios when systemic therapy is initiated first, it has not been previously investigated whether delaying WBRT is harmful. Methods and Materials: The National Cancer Database was queried (2004-2016) for patients with SCLC with brain metastases who received 30 Gy in 10 fractions of WBRT. Patients were divided into groups based on whether they received early WBRT (3-14 days after initiation of chemotherapy) or late WBRT (15-90 days after initiation of chemotherapy). Demographic and clinicopathologic categorical variables were compared between those who had early WBRT (3-14 days) and those who had late WBRT (15-90 days). Factors predictive for late WBRT were determined. Overall survival (OS), which was defined as days from diagnosis to death, was evaluated and variables prognostic for OS were determined. Results: A total of 1082 patients met selection criteria; 587 (54%) had early WBRT and 495 (46%) received late WBRT. Groups were similarly distributed aside from days from initiating chemotherapy to initiating WBRT (P < .001). The early WBRT group had a median of 7 days (interquartile range [IQR], 5-10 days) from initiating chemotherapy to initiating WBRT and the late WBRT group had a median of 34 days (IQR, 21-57 days). On binary logistic regression analysis, a longer time interval between diagnosis and the start of systemic therapy was predictive for later WBRT. Median OS was 8.7 months for early WBRT and 7.5 months for late WBRT (hazard ratio [HR], 1.165; P = .008). Early WBRT (P = .02), female sex (P = .045), and private insurance (P = .04) were favorable prognostic factors for OS on multivariable analysis, whereas older age (P = .006) was an unfavorable prognostic factor. Conclusions: Patients with SCLC and brain metastases who received early WBRT were found to have a modest improvement in OS compared with patients who received late WBRT. These findings suggest that early WBRT should be offered to patients who have brain metastases, even in the absence of an indication for emergent WBRT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100783
JournalAdvances in Radiation Oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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