Current status and treatment modalities in metastases to the pituitary: a systematic review



Metastases to the pituitary (MP) are uncommon, accounting for 0.4% of intracranial metastases. Through advances in neuroimaging and oncological therapies, patients with metastatic cancers are living longer and MP may be more frequent. This review aimed to investigate clinical and oncological features, treatment modalities and their effect on survival.


A systematic review was performed according to PRISMA recommendations. All cases of MP were included, excepted primary pituitary neoplasms and autopsy reports. Descriptive and survival analyses were then conducted.


The search identified 2143 records, of which 157 were included. A total of 657 cases of MP were reported, including 334 females (50.8%). The mean ± standard deviation age was 59.1 ± 11.9 years. Lung cancer was the most frequent primary site (31.0%), followed by breast (26.2%) and kidney cancers (8.1%). Median survival from MP diagnosis was 14 months. Overall survival was significantly different between lung, breast and kidney cancers (P < .0001). Survival was impacted by radiotherapy (hazard ratio (HR) 0.49; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.35–0.67; P < .0001) and chemotherapy (HR 0.58; 95% CI 0.36–0.92; P = .013) but not by surgery. Stereotactic radiotherapy tended to improve survival over conventional radiotherapy (HR 0.66; 95% CI 0.39–1.12; P = .065). Patients from recent studies (≥ 2010) had longer survival than others (HR 1.36; 95% CI 1.05–1.76; P = .0019).


This systematic review based on 657 cases helped to better identify clinical features, oncological characteristics and the effect of current therapies in patients with MP. Survival patterns were conditioned upon primary cancer histologies, the use of local radiotherapy and systemic chemotherapy, but not by surgery.

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Correspondence to Sam Ng.

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Ng, S., Fomekong, F., Delabar, V. et al. Current status and treatment modalities in metastases to the pituitary: a systematic review. J Neurooncol 146, 219–227 (2020).

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  • Pituitary
  • Metastasis
  • Sella
  • Radiotherapy
  • Surgery