Evaluating the natural growth rate of metastatic cancer to the brain

Andrew J. Kobets, Reid Backus, Rose Fluss, Alan Lee, Patrick A. Lasala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Brain metastases are becoming increasingly more prevalent as cancer patients survive longer with both improved local and systemic therapy. Little is known, however, of the natural growth rates of brain metastases. This investigation aims to ascertain this growth rate of these lesions before the initiation of any CNS-directed therapy. Methods: A total of 700 patients were screened, identifying 18 cancer patients (13 breast and 5 lung) with 29 brain metastases that were serially imaged from 2011 to 2017 before treatment for their intracranial metastases. Growth rates were measured by contouring lesions serially across at least two MRI studies in iPlan software by independent raters. These values were then compared between primary (breast and lung) cancer cohorts. Results: The mean age at diagnosis was 53 and 95% were female. The interval between primary cancer diagnosis and brain metastases was 4.6 years and 1.2 years in the breast and lung cancer groups, respectively. Of the breast and lung cancer patients, 23% and 40% were deceased, with respective 5.08 cm3 and 2.44 cm3 initial tumor volumes. The average growth rate of lung and breast tumors was 0.018 and 0.040 cm3/day, respectively, with deceased patients having larger and faster growing tumors. Breast and lung metastases grew 2.39% and 1.14% of their total volumes daily and doubling times were 86 and 139 days, respectively. Conclusion: This investigation provides a unique perspective into the biological growth of metastatic brain lesions. It is our hope that this study guides timing of treatment and informs both clinicians and patients of tumor growth kinetics before initiating treatment for intracranial metastases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2912020
JournalSurgical Neurology International
StatePublished - Aug 15 2020


  • Brain metastases
  • Breast cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Metastatic growth
  • Tumor kinetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluating the natural growth rate of metastatic cancer to the brain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this