Increased risk of brain metastases in ovarian cancer patients with BRCA mutations


      • BRCA mutations may be associated with brain metastases in ovarian cancer.
      • Real-world data were used to estimate ovarian cancer brain metastases risk.
      • We assessed if BRCA mutation increases brain metastases risk in ovarian cancer.
      • BRCA mutation increased the risk of brain metastases by 4-fold versus BRCA wildtype.
      • Diagnosis of brain metastases was 8 months earlier with BRCA mutation.



      To estimate the risk for brain metastases in patients with ovarian cancer using real-world data, and assess whether BRCA mutations increase that risk.


      This retrospective study included 4515 patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer between January 1, 2011, and January 31, 2018, from the Flatiron Health database, a longitudinal, demographically, and geographically diverse database derived from electronic health records in the United States.


      Forty-six (1%) patients were diagnosed with brain metastases after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Of 4515 patients with ovarian cancer, 10% had a known BRCA mutation, 37% had BRCA wildtype (BRCAwt), and the BRCA status of the remaining 51% was unknown/untested. Brain metastases were observed in 3% of patients with BRCA mutations compared with 0.6% of those with BRCAwt. The Kaplan-Meier estimate for the proportion of patients with brain metastases within 5 years of diagnosis was 5.7% in the population with BRCA mutations compared with 1.4% in those with BRCAwt (hazard ratio 4.44; 95% confidence interval, 1.97, 10.00; P < 0.0001). These data demonstrate that patients with a BRCA mutation had a significantly higher risk for brain metastases than those without.


      Despite being a rare manifestation of ovarian cancer, the possibility of developing brain metastases should be considered in these patients, especially in patients with a BRCA mutation. The availability of new therapeutic options that may prolong overall survival and may not cross the blood–brain barrier could also lead to an increase in brain metastases in patients with ovarian cancer.


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