Background: Leptomeningeal metastasis (LM) is one of the major problems in managing metastatic breast cancer because of LM typically carries a devastating prognosis and often represents a terminal event. We analyzed the clinical features and outcomes of LM in patients with breast cancer.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of patients who were diagnosed with LM from breast cancer between 2002 and 2012 at Asan Medical Center.

Results: Of the 95 LM patients by cytologically proven (n = 81) or radiologically diagnosed (n = 14), 57 (60%) had an ECOG performance status (PS) ≥ 3, and the median age was 47 years (range, 26–72 years). The patients were diagnosed with LM after a median of 10.3 months (95% CI, 5.5–15.0 months) from the time of diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer. LM was present in 2 patients at the time of initial diagnosis. Twenty-three patients (24.2%) had isolated CNS metastasis, and 6 (6.3%) had only LM without any detectable metastasis sites. At the time of diagnosis of LM, 46 patients (48.4%) presented with coincidental failure of systemic disease control. Seventy-eight patients (82.1%) underwent intrathecal chemotherapy (methotrexate; n=78, thiotepa; n=11), resulting in one-third of cytologic negative conversion (n = 26), and 41 (43.2%) received systemic chemotherapy. The overall median survival time was 3.3 months (95% CI, 2.5–4.2 months) and 7.8% of the patients survived for more than 1 year. Overall survival tended to be better in patients who achieved cytologic negative conversion to intrathecal chemotherapy than those did not (median 4.5 months versus 3.2 months, P = 0.241). Overall survival was not different according to subtypes; hormone receptor (+), HER2 (+), and triple negative (median 3.6 months, 3.3 months, and 3.2 months, P = 0.937). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that ECOG PS ≥ 3 (HR = 2.09, 95% CI 1.21–3.58, P = 0.007), coincidental failure of systemic disease control at LM (HR = 3.01, 95% CI 1.76–5.15, P < 0.001), and systemic chemotherapy after LM (HR = 0.40, 95% CI 0.24–0.68, P = 0.001) were independent factors associated with survival.

Conclusions: The prognosis for patients with LM from breast cancer was still poor. Systemic chemotherapy in addition to intrathecal chemotherapy might confer a survival benefit, even after the detection of LM.

Citation Information: Cancer Res 2012;72(24 Suppl):Abstract nr P3-12-05.