Control and Toxicity in Melanoma Versus Other Brain Metastases in Response to Combined Radiosurgery and PD-(L)1 Immune Checkpoint Inhibition

Academic Article


  • Purpose: Prior studies have mixed conclusions about the efficacy and central nervous system (CNS) toxicity profile of combining radiosurgery with anti-programed cell death 1 (PD-1) immune checkpoint inhibition (ICI) for brain metastases. This study evaluates the safety and efficacy of combined radiosurgery and anti-PD-1 ICI for melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and renal cell carcinoma (RCC) brain metastases (BM). Methods and Materials: Forty-one patients with 153 radiation na├»ve melanoma BM and 33 patients with 118 BM of NSCLC and RCC origin from 2014 through 2019 received radiosurgery and either anti PD-1 receptor inhibition or anti PD-L1 inhibition targeting the PD-1 ligand with less than 4 months separating either therapy. Similar to Radiation Therapy Oncology Group 9005, high-grade CNS toxicity was defined as irreversible grade 3 or any grade 4/5 neurologic event. Salvage resection revealing necrosis and viable tumor was considered grade 4 toxicity and local failure. An increase in greatest cross-sectional diameter of 25% on contrasted magnetic resonance imaging was designated as a local failure. Results: Median follow-up was 10 months (range, 1-41 months). Local control was estimated to be 90.3% at 1 year. Distant control was 38.8% at 1 year, and neither local nor distant control were significantly influenced by limiting steroids to the day of treatment (P = .55,. 52 respectively). One-year freedom from high-grade toxicity was 90.4% for patients and 94.6% for tumors. Though melanoma accounted for 41 (55%) patients and 153 (56%) tumors, it accounted for all high-grade toxicities (P = .03). These patients had some combination of high tumor burden, aggressive steroid taper, and treatment with ipilimumab. Conclusions: Stereotactic radiosurgery combined with anti-PD-1 ICI appears to result in a high rate of local tumor control and a low rate of high-grade CNS toxicity, comparable to historical series with radiosurgery alone. High-grade toxicity is more likely in melanoma than RCC and NSCLC. Coming prospective studies will shed light on further questions about treatment timing, steroids, and response.
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    Author List

  • Travis RL; Marcrom SR; Brown MH; Patel MP; Markert JM; Riley KO; Conry R; Willey CD; Bredel M; Fiveash JB
  • Volume

  • 6
  • Issue

  • 1