Gastric cancer and metastasis to the brain

Julie E. York, Jared Stringer, Jaffer A. Ajani, David M. Wildrick, Ziya L. Gokaslan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Metastasis of gastric carcinoma to the brain is very uncommon. At The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (M. D. Anderson), less than 1% of patients with primary gastric carcinoma are found to have brain metastases. Little has been published regarding the evaluation and treatment of these patients. The purpose of this study was to review our experience with gastric cancer metastatic to the brain and to describe the efficacy of the treatment used. Methods: Between 1957 and 1997, a total of 218,690 patients were seen for evaluation of malignant tumors at M. D. Anderson. Of these patients, 3320 (1.5%) had a diagnosis of gastric cancer; however, only 24 patients (0.7%) were found to have brain metastases on imaging studies or at autopsy. We performed a retrospective review of these 24 patients and divided them into three groups on the basis of the treatment they received. Results: Group 1 included patients who received steroids alone (16 mg of dexamethasone, daily). Group 2 patients received 3000 cGy of whole- brain radiation therapy (WBRT) delivered in 10 fractions in addition to steroids. Group 3 patients were managed with surgical resection, WBRT, and steroids. There were 18 male and 6 female patients, with a median age of 53 years. The most common presenting symptoms were weakness, difficulty with balance, and headache. Of the 19 patients diagnosed antemortem, 11 patients developed neurological symptoms after the primary diagnosis of gastric carcinoma, whereas 8 patients developed neurological symptoms before the diagnosis of gastric cancer. Forty-five percent of patients had a single brain metastasis, whereas 55% had multiple lesions. All patients had systemic disease, with bone, liver, and lung involvement seen in 46%, 42%, and 29%, respectively. Nineteen of 24 patients received treatment after diagnosis of brain metastases. Four patients received steroids only (group 1), 11 patients received WBRT and steroids (group 2), and 4 patients were treated with surgery, WBRT, and steroids (group 3). Median survival was approximately 2 months for patients in groups 1 and 2, whereas group 3 patients had a median survival of slightly greater than 1 year. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the overall prognosis of patients with brain metastases from gastric cancer is extremely poor (median survival, 9 weeks). WBRT, as an adjuvant to steroid treatment, was not effective in improving outcome in our series. In selected patients, most of whom were relatively young and had less advanced systemic disease, surgical resection followed by WBRT was associated with relatively long survival times (median survival, 54 weeks).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)771-776
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of surgical oncology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1999


  • Brain
  • Gastric cancer
  • Metastasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


Dive into the research topics of 'Gastric cancer and metastasis to the brain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this