Background: Novel treatments make long-term survival possible for subsets of patients with melanoma brain metastases. Brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may aid in early detection of brain metastases and inform treatment decisions. This study aimed to determine the impact of screening MRI scans in patients with metastatic melanoma and follow-up MRI scans in patients with melanoma brain metastases.
Methods: This retrospective cohort study included patients diagnosed with metastatic melanoma or melanoma brain metastases between June 2015 and January 2018. The impact of screening MRI scans was evaluated in the first 2 years after metastatic melanoma diagnosis. The impact of follow-up MRI scans was examined in the first year after brain metastases diagnosis. The number of MRI scans, scan indications, scan outcomes, and changes in treatment strategy were analyzed.
Results: In total, 116 patients had no brain metastases at the time of the metastatic melanoma diagnosis. Twenty-eight of these patients (24%) were subsequently diagnosed with brain metastases. Screening MRI scans detected the brain metastases in 11/28 patients (39%), of which 8 were asymptomatic at diagnosis. In the 96 patients with melanoma brain metastases, treatment strategy changed after 75/168 follow-up MRI scans (45%). In patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors, the number of treatment changes after follow-up MRI scans was lower when patients had been treated longer.
Conclusion(s): Screening MRI scans aid in early detection of melanoma brain metastases, and follow-up MRI scans inform treatment strategy. In patients with brain metastases responding to immune checkpoint inhibitors, treatment changes were less frequently observed after follow-up MRI scans. These results can inform the development of brain imaging protocols for patients with immune checkpoint inhibitor sensitive tumors.
- brain metastases
- early diagnosis