Carcinomatous Meningitis (Ovarian)

gdpawel Member Posts: 523
edited March 2014 in Ovarian Cancer #1
Leptomeningeal Carcinomatous (Carcinomatous Meningitis)

Ovarian cancer does not commonly involve the nervous system. Brain metastasis is a rare complication of ovarian cancer with only 67 well documented cases in the literature until 1994. A multi-institutional study of 4027 ovarian cancer patients over 30 years identified only 32 cases while an autopsy study of ovarian cancer reported an incidence of 0.9%. Leptomeningeal metastasis is even a rarer complication of ovarian cancer with only 14 cases reported by 1994. (NCI) The most common cancers to involve the leptomeninges are breast cancer, lung cancer and melanomas, and now, because of dose-intense combination chemotherapies, even ovarian cancer is more common.

Unfortunately, cancer cells are too small to find on any scans unless they have grown into a lump. There can still be cancer cells in the body even though scans may have indicated that all the cancer had gone. Leptomeningeal metastasis (Lepteomeningeal Carcinomatous or Carcinomatous Meningitis) is a condition caused by cancer cells getting into the thin sheets of body tissue that surround and protect the brain and spine. These sheets are called the meninges. Meningitis means inflammation of the meninges. Carcinomatous just means acting like a cancer. Most people are familiar with the type of meningitis caused by an infection, but with carcinomatous meningitis, it is the cancer cells in the meninges that cause the inflammation, not an outside infection.

Tumor cells reach the meninges by hematogenous (blood) spread or by direct extension from pre-existing lesions and are then disseminated throughout the neuroaxis by the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid. Patients present with signs and symptoms from injury to nerves that traverse the subarachnoid space, direct tumor invasion into the brain or spinal cord, alterations in blood supply to the nervous system, obstruction of normal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow pathways or general interference with brain function.

Secondary cancers from a primary cancer can develop in different parts of the body, including the brain or spine. Cancer cells do not always develop into an active secondary tumor when they have spread to a new site. Sometimes they stay inactive for many years. So, even after a cancer appears to have been successfully treated, some cancer cells may still be elsewhere in the body. No one knows why some cancer cells stay inactive or what triggers them to form a secondary cancer.

Diagnosis is most commonly made by lumbar puncture, although the CSF cytology is persistently negative in about 10% of patients with leptomeningeal carcinomatosis. Radiology studies may reveal subarachnoid masses, diffuse contrast enhancement of the meninges or hydrocephalus without a mass lesion.

Doctors estimate that about 5 out of every 100 patients who have cancer develop carcinomatous meningitis. It is most common in breast cancer, but it can occur with any type of cancer. The cancer cells in the meninges can cause a range of symptoms, including confusion, headaches and weakness. The condition is very difficult to treat and the main aim is to help control symptoms and not cure the disease.

Without treatment, the median survival of patients is 4 - 6 weeks and death occurs from progressive neurologic dysfunction. Radiation therapy to symptomatic sites and disease visible on neuroimaging studies and intrathecal chemotherapy increases the median survival to 3 - 6 months.

Recently, doctors have been looking at using different combinations of chemotherapy drugs to treat carcinomatous meningitis secondary to the primary cancer. They found that giving both chemotherapy injected into the bloodstream and chemotherapy given directly into the spinal fluid improved the outlook for some people.

Major favorable prognostic factors include excellent performance status, absence of serious fixed neurologic deficits, normal CSF flow scans and absent or responsive systemic tumor. However, aggressive therapy for this disorder is often accompanied by necrotizing leukoencephalopathy which becomes symptomatic months after treatment with radiation and intrathecal methotrexate. Current available therapies are toxic and provide limited benefits.


  • gdpawel
    gdpawel Member Posts: 523

    Isolated Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis (Carcinomatous Meningitis) after Taxane-Induced Major Remission in Patients with Advanced Breast Cancer

    Christos Kosmasa, Nikolaos A. Malamosa, Nikolas B. Tsavarisc, Melina Stamatakib, Achilleas Gregorioua, Sofia Rokanaa, Maria Vartholomeoua, Minas J. Antonopoulosa

    aDepartment of Medicine, Medical Oncology Unit and bDepartment of Cytopathology, Helena-Venizelou Hospital and cDepartment of Pathophysiology, Medical Oncology Unit, Laikon General Hospital, Athens University School of Medicine, Athens, Greece


    Objectives: To identify the incidence of leptomeningeal carcinomatosis (LMC), as the first site of systemic progression, in breast cancer patients after having obtained a major response (CR or near CR) to first-line taxane-based chemotherapy and compare these findings in retrospect with a matched-pair group of historical control patients from our database treated with nontaxane regimens.

    Patients and Methods: Patients with histologically proven breast cancer having either metastatic disease or high-risk locoregional disease that were entered into treatment protocols with first-line taxane (paclitaxel or docetaxel) plus anthracyclines or mitoxantrone combinations and developed LMC as the first evidence of progression after major response (CR or >80% PR) were analyzed in the present study (n = 155), and compared, as regards the incidence of LMC, to a matched-pair retrospective group of 155 patients treated with nontaxane regimens in our unit.

    Results: Seven patients with a median age of 54 years (range 40-70) developed LMC as their first evidence of progression after taxane-based regimens with a median interval of 6 months (range 2-18) from start of treatment to diagnosis of LMC. Five patients received intrathecal (i.t.) methotrexate treatment and whole brain radiotherapy (RT), while 1 patient received i.t. methotrexate and RT to the lumbar spine.

    Two patients responded to treatment for LMC, while 2 achieved stable disease and 3 progressed. Two patients had elevated cerebrospinal fluid tumor markers (more than serum marker levels) that proved useful in monitoring response to treatment. Median survival after LMC was 3.6 months (range 1-17+) and correlated positively to the interval from the initiation of taxane-based therapy to LMC (r = 0.84, p = 0.019).

    Seven out of 86 responders (8.13%) in the taxane group versus 1 out of 72 responders (1.4%) in the non-taxane-treated group developed LMC as the first sign of progression after a major response to first-line chemotherapy (p < 0.1).

    Conclusions: LMC after a major response to front-line taxane-based regimens represents a grave disease manifestation and its incidence appears increased, but not significantly so, when compared retrospectively to non-taxane-treated patients.

    Prospective evaluation of the incidence of LMC after taxane versus non-taxane-based treatment from large randomized multi-institutional trials is warranted and identification of potential prognostic factors might help to identify patients requiring appropriate prophylactic therapy.

    American Journal Clinical Oncology 2002;63:6-15