Metastic Tumors

A malignant tumor from another part of the body may spread to the brain. This is known as a metastatic tumor. Metastatic tumors most often come from the lung and/or breast, but other tumors such as prostate, kidney, or melanoma can also metastasize. It is far less common to find cervical or uterine metastatic tumors in the brain. Multiple tumors can occur in up to 50% of patients and usually occur in the cerebral cortex (the top layer of the brain) or cerebellum (the balance center in the back of the brain).

Patients with metastatic tumors may have a range of symptoms such as seizures, personality changes, movement or sensory problems (sight, hearing, smelling etc.), headache, vomiting, loss of consciousness. Metastatic tumors can often be visualized well by CT or MRI scanning, and usually have well defined edges with associated brain swelling.

Treatment often involves a combination of surgery and radiation therapy. For those with a single tumor, surgery followed by radiotherapy provides good results. In those patients with no other evidence of cancer, the median survival period is 2 years. For those with evidence of cancer elsewhere in the body the median survival period is 8 months.

For patients with multiple tumors, the prognosis is not nearly as good. Surgery is done on a case by case basis depending on diagnosis, locations, and type of tumors. Radiotherapy is also administered.

©2010 Dr. David Langer - Last Modified: September 16, 2010 - Website design/animation by Answers Design Group