Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis in non-small-cell lung cancer patients: Impact on survival and correlated prognostic factors

Su Jin Lee, Jung Il Lee, Do Hyun Nam, Young Chan Ahn, Jung Ho Han, Jong Mu Sun, Jin Seok Ahn, Keunchil Park, Myung Ju Ahn

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146 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The incidence of leptomeningeal carcinomatosis (LC) has increased in patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) because of recent improvements in survival. The clinical features and prognostic factors of LC in NSCLC patients, however, have not been well identified. The aim of this study was to identify the clinical features and prognostic factors of NSCLC patients with LC. METHODS: One hundred and forty-nine consecutive NSCLC patients with cytologically proven LC diagnoses between 2001 and 2009 at Samsung Medical Center were retrospectively reviewed. RESULTS: The median age was 58 years (range, 34-80) with most patients (135, 95%) having histology indicating adenocarcinoma. Twenty-six patients (17.4%) had LC at the initial presentation of lung cancer. Treatment for LC consisted of intrathecal chemotherapy (ITC) alone in 44 patients, ITC plus systemic therapy in 18 patients, ITC plus radiotherapy in 29 patients, all three treatments in 18 patients, and other treatments without ITC in 20 patients. Twenty patients received only supportive care. The median follow-up duration was 34 months and the median overall survival from diagnosis of LC was 14 weeks (95% confidence interval [CI] 12, 16). In univariate analysis, encephalopathy, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status, low initial cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) glucose, high initial CSF protein, high initial CSF white blood cell count, treatment with ITC, systemic therapy with epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors or cytotoxic chemotherapy, whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT), ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt operations, and negative cytologic conversion after ITC were identified as variables that had prognostic influence on survival. In multivariate analysis, poor ECOG performance status (p = 0.026), high protein level of CSF (p = 0.027), and high initial CSF WBC count (p = 0.015) remained significant predictors of poor prognosis for survival, whereas ITC (p < 0.001), EGFR-TKI use (p = 0.018), WBRT (p = 0.009), and VP shunt operation (p = 0.013) remained significant predictors of favorable prognosis for survival. CONCLUSIONS: Even though the prognosis of LC from NSCLC is poor, small subsets of these patients survive longer. Our results suggest that more active treatment strategies including ITC, WBRT, and EGFR-TKI use might improve clinical outcomes in NSCLC patients with LC and good performance status, low initial CSF protein and WBC counts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-191
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Thoracic Oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors
  • Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis
  • Non-small-cell lung cancer
  • Prognostic factors


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