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Hypofractionated stereotactic radiotherapy of limited brain metastases: a single-centre individualized treatment approach

Bettina Märtens, Stefan Janssen, Martin Werner, Jörg Frühauf, Hans Christiansen, Michael Bremer and Diana Steinmann*

Author Affiliations

Radiation Oncology, Medical School Hannover, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, Hannover, 30625, Germany

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:497  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-497

Published: 25 October 2012



We retrospectively report treatment results of our single-centre experience with hypofractionated stereotactic radiotherapy (hfSRT) of limited brain metastases in primary and recurrence disease situations. Our aim was to find the most effective and safe dose concept.


From 04/2006 to 12/2010, 75 patients, with 108 intracranial metastases, were treated with hfSRT. 52 newly diagnosed metastases (48%), without up-front whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT), received hfSRT as a primary treatment. 56 metastases (52%) received a prior WBRT and were treated in this study in a recurrence situation. Main fractionation concepts used for primary hfSRT were 6-7x5 Gy (61.5%) and 5x6 Gy (19.2%), for recurrent hfSRT 7-10x4 Gy (33.9%) and 5-6x5 Gy (33.9%).


Median overall survival (OS) of all patients summed up to 9.1 months, actuarial 6-and 12-month-OS was 59% and 35%, respectively. Median local brain control (LC) was 11.9 months, median distant brain control (DC) 3.9 months and intracranial control (IC) 3.4 months, respectively. Variables with significant influence on OS were Gross Tumour Volume (GTV) (p = 0.019), the biological eqivalent dose (calculated on a 2 Gy single dose, EQD2, α/β = 10) < and ≥ median of 39 Gy (p = 0.012), extracerebral activity of the primary tumour (p < 0.001) and the steroid uptake during hfSRT (p = 0.03). LC was significantly influenced by the EQD2, ≤ and > 35 Gy (p = 0.004) in both uni- and multivariate Cox regression analysis. Median LC was 14.9 months for EQD2 >35 Gy and 3.4 months for doses ≤35 Gy, respectively. Early treatment related side effects were usually mild. Nevertheless, patients with a EQD2 >35 Gy had higher rates of toxicity (31%) than ≤35 Gy (8.3%, p=0.026).


Comparing different dose concepts in hfSRT, a cumulative EQD2 of ≥35 Gy seems to be the most effective concept in patients with primary or recurrent limited brain metastases. Despite higher rates of only mild toxicity, this concept represents a safe treatment option.

Brain tumours; hfSRT; SRS; Fractionation