Publication date: Aug 01, 2020
The optimal sequence of stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) and immune checkpoint inhibition (ICI) and assessment of response in patients with brain metastases from melanoma remain challenging.
We reviewed clinical and neuroimaging data of 62 patients with melanoma, including 26 patients with BRAF-mutant tumours, with newly diagnosed brain metastases treated with ICI alone (n=10, group 1), SRT alone or in combination with other systemic therapies (n=20, group 2) or ICI plus SRT (n=32, group 3). Response was assessed retrospectively using response evaluation criteria in solid tumours (RECIST) V.1.1, response assessment in neuro-oncology (RANO) and immunotherapy RANO (iRANO) criteria. MRI follow-up from 43 patients was available for central review.
Patients treated with ICI alone showed no objective responses and had worse outcome than patients treated with SRT without or with ICI. RECIST, RANO and iRANO criteria were concordant for complete response (CR) and partial response (PR). RANO called progression earlier than RECIST for clinical deterioration without MRI progression in some patients. Progression was called later when using iRANO criteria because of the need for a confirmatory scan. Pseudoprogression was documented in seven patients: three patients in group 2 and four patients in group 3. Radionecrosis was documented in seven patients: two patients in group 2 and five patients in group 3. Regression of non-irradiated lesions was seen neither in two patients treated with SRT alone nor in five patients treated with SRT plus ICI, providing no evidence for rare abscopal effects.
Pseudoprogression is uncommon with ICI alone, suggesting that growing lesions in such patients should trigger an intervention. Pseudoprogression rates were similar after SRT alone or SRT in combination with ICI. Abscopal effects are rare or do not exist. Response assessment criteria should be considered carefully when designing clinical studies for patients with brain metastases who receive SRT.
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