Clinical features and course of brain metastases in colorectal cancer: an experience from a single institution

K. Damiens, J.P.M. Ayoub, B. Lemieux, F. Aubin, W. Saliba, M. Campeau, Mustapha Tehfe



Brain metastases from colorectal cancer (crc) are quite rare. Here, we review the characteristics, presentation, and clinical course of such patients at our institution.


We reviewed the medical records of patients with brain metastases from crc treated during 2000–2009. Associations between patient, tumour characteristics, treatment modality, and survival were assessed using the Kaplan–Meier method.


We identified 48 patients (25 men, 23 women) who developed brain metastases from crc. The median age at diagnosis of the brain metastases was 63 years (range: 37–84 years). In 23 of the patients (48%), the primary tumour occurred in the rectum. At diagnosis of brain metastases, 43 patients (90%) also had other systemic metastases (mainly pulmonary and hepatic). The median interval between diagnosis of the primary tumour and of the brain metastases was 24 months. Median survival after a diagnosis of brain metastasis from crc was 4 months (range: 1–13 months). We observed substantially better survival (13 months, p < 0.001) in patients treated with surgery followed by whole-brain radiotherapy (wbrt) than in those treated with radiotherapy or surgery alone. Sex, age, location and number of brain metastases, and timing of diagnosis did not affect survival.


Brain metastases from crc develop late in the course of the disease, given that most patients already have other secondary lesions. Prognosis in these patients is poor, with those receiving treatment with surgery and wbrt having the best overall survival. Early detection and treatment of brain metastases with new systemic therapies may improve outcomes.

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)