BackgroundIn the modern era of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) staging, the benefit of prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI) in patients with small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) has been controversial. This study evaluated the prognostic impact of PCI in patients with limited- or extensive-stage SCLC who had no brain metastases at diagnosis according to MRI.MethodsData from newly diagnosed patients in 2014 from the Korean Association for Lung Cancer Registry database were used. Patients with limited- or extensive-stage SCLC who had no brain metastases according to MRI were identified. Univariate and multivariate survival analyses were conducted to assess the prognostic association of PCI.ResultsOf 107 and 122 patients with limited- and extensive-stage SCLC, 24% and 14% received PCI, respectively. In the limited-stage SCLC group, the 2-year overall survival (OS) rates of patients who received PCI and those who did not were 50% and 29% (P = 0.018), respectively. However, there was no significant difference in OS for patients with extensive-stage SCLC (P = 0.336). After adjusting for other covariates, PCI was found to be associated with improved OS in the limited-stage SCLC group (P = 0.005). Based on the time-course hazard rate function plots in the limited-stage SCLC group, the OS benefit of PCI was maximized within the first year of follow-up.ConclusionsIn the modern era of MRI staging, PCI might be beneficial for patients with limited-stage SCLC but not for those with extensive-stage SCLC. Further studies with a large sample size are needed to verify the prognostic association of PCI.