Crizotinib achieves excellent systemic control in anaplastic lymphoma kinase-rearranged (ALK+) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); however, central nervous system (CNS) metastases frequently occur as an early event. Whole brain irradiation, the standard treatment, results in neurocognitive impairment. We present a case series of three ALK+ NSCLC patients with progressing CNS metastases who were treated with pulse-dose crizotinib followed by ceritinib. Three ALK+ NSCLC patients treated between 2011 and 2014 (two males, two never smokers, age range 20-54 years, all echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4/ALK rearrangement), were diagnosed with progressing cerebral disease while receiving crizotinib. Clinico-pathological characteristics, treatments, and outcomes were analyzed. In two patients the progression was limited to the CNS, and radiological evidence of leptomeningeal spread was present in one patient. Sequential use of crizotinib 500 mg administered once daily (pulse-dose) followed by ceritinib on progression achieved control of the disease in the CNS for over 18 months and over 7 months in Patient 1 and Patient 2, respectively. This strategy provided durable CNS control after whole-brain radiotherapy failure in Patient 1, and allowed the whole-brain radiotherapy to be deferred in Patient 2. Limited CNS progression was documented in Patient 3 while he was on standard-dose/pulse-dose crizotinib for 15 months; durable (over 7 months) complete remission was achieved with stereotactic radiotherapy and ceritinib. Manipulating the crizotinib schedule in ALK+ NSCLC patients with CNS metastases and using a novel ALK-inhibitor at the time of further progression may provide durable CNS control and allow brain radiotherapy to be deferred.
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