Background: Brain radiotherapy is used in the management of melanoma brain metastases (MBM) and can result in radionecrosis. Anti-PD-1 is active in the brain and may increase the risk of radionecrosis when combined with radiotherapy. We studied the incidence, associated factors and management of radionecrosis in longer-term survivors with MBM treated with this combination.
Methods: Patients with MBM treated with radiotherapy and anti-PD-1 who survived > 1 year were identified to determine radionecrosis incidence (Cohort A, n = 135). Cohort A plus additional radionecrosis cases were examined for factors associated with radionecrosis and management (Cohort B, n = 148).
Results: From Cohort A, 17% developed radionecrosis, with a cumulative incidence at 2 years of 18%. Using Cohort B, multivariable analysis confirmed an association between radionecrosis and elevated lactate dehydrogenase (p = 0.0496) and prior treatment with ipilimumab (p = 0.0319). Radionecrosis was diagnosed based on MRI (100%), symptoms (69%) and pathology (56%). Treatment included corticosteroids, bevacizumab and neurosurgery.
Conclusions: Radionecrosis is a significant toxicity in longer-term melanoma survivors with MBM treated with anti-PD-1 and radiotherapy. Identification of those at risk of radionecrosis who may avoid radiotherapy is required.