Metatastic Brain Tumour

Metatastic Brain Tumour

What Are Brain Metastases?

Brain metastases are Cancer cells that have spread to the brain from primary tumors in other organs in the body. This occurs most often with lung cancer but can also occur in breast, skin (melanoma), kidney, and colon cancer. It is estimated that over 170,000 people are diagnosed with brain metastases each year. Cancer cells break away from the primary Tumor in the chest, travel through the bloodstream, and take up residence in the brain.

What Is Done After Brain Metastases Are Found?

If There Is No Prior History of Cancer

If brain metastases are the first sign of cancer, typically the next step will be to search for a primary cancer. This will most likely include a chest x-ray and chest CT scan, since lung cancer is most commonly associated with brain metastases. Physical examination, CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis, mammogram, MRI, bone scan, PET scan, endoscopy, colonoscopy, and/or blood tests may also be required. Once the primary cancer is identified, a tissue sample will be needed to confirm the type of cancer. The tissue sample can come from a sputum specimen, from a Needle biopsy, or from surgery. It could be taken from the primary cancer, or from any other metastatic site, including the brain. The tissue sample will confirm that there is cancer, and will help the doctor identify which type of cancer it is. Once the type of cancer and the extent of the cancer spread are known, the doctor will identify and begin appropriate treatment for that cancer.

If a Prior Cancer Has Been Treated

If a patient has finished cancer treatment, and a brain metastasis is the first sign that cancer has returned, the doctor will perform a number of tests to see if there is cancer elsewhere in the body. These may include physical examination, x-rays, CT, MRI, bone scan, PET scan, and/or blood tests. A biopsy also may be necessary.

If Cancer Treatment Is Ongoing

If a patient is undergoing cancer treatment for a primary tumor and a brain metastasis is found, the doctor may or may not assess the status of the cancer elsewhere in the body through physical examination, x-rays, CT, MRI, bone scan, PET scan, and/or blood tests.

Which Treatment Is Best for Me?

You and your healthcare team will decide which treatment, or combination of treatments, is appropriate for you. In making these decisions, some of the factors your healthcare team will take into consideration include:

• Number of tumors
• Location of tumor(s)
• Size of tumor(s)
• Type of tumor(s)
• Symptoms of the metastases
• Age
• Overall health
• Active primary cancer

To read further information about Brain Metastases you can download 'A guide for patient and caregiver'  published by the National Brain Tumor Foundation.

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Figure 1: Brain metastasis in the right cerebral hemisphere from lung cancer shown on T1-weigthed magnetic resonance imaging with intravenous contrast. (L=left, P=posterior, back of the head).

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This page was last modified on 14th December 2011 at 20:43

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