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Brain Metastasis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Feb 26, 2024

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Causes Of Brain Metastasis

Symptoms Of Brain Metastasis

Risk Factors Of Brain Metastasis

Diagnosis Of Brain Metastasis

Treatment  Of Brain Metastasis

Medications

Surgery

Radiation therapy

Brain Metastasis

When cancer cells spread to the brain, they do so after departing from their initial site. Although brain metastases can arise from any kind of cancer, the most frequent types are lung, breast, colon, kidney, and melanoma.

A single cancer or several brain tumors may arise from brain metastasis. When the metastatic brain tumors grow, the surrounding brain tissue is put under pressure and undergoes functional alterations. As a result, headaches, changing personalities, memory loss, and seizures are among the signs and symptoms.

Patients whose cancer has spread to their brains may receive immunotherapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or any combination of these treatments. One common therapeutic objective is to lessen the pain and discomfort associated with cancer.


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Causes Of Brain Metastasis

After departing from their original location, cancer cells move to different brain areas. The cells can travel through the lymphatic or circulatory systems to the brain, where they can settle and begin increasing.

Any metastatic cancer that spreads beyond its original site is referred to as the primary cancer. For example, cancer that has spread from the breast to the brain is referred to as metastatic breast cancer, not brain cancer.

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Symptoms Of Brain Metastasis

The indications and symptoms of brain metastases can vary depending on the location, size, and growth rate of the metastatic tumors.

The following are some signs and symptoms of brain metastases:

  • Headache, sometimes coupled with vomiting or nausea
  • Changes in the mind, such as an increase in memory problems
  • Seizures

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Risk Factors Of Brain Metastasis

All types of cancer have the potential to spread to the brain, but some are more likely than others to do so. Examples of these include:

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Diagnosis Of Brain Metastasis

Several tests and procedures may be recommended if your doctor suspects brain metastases.

  • An assessment of the nervous system: Your reflexes, strength, balance, hearing, vision, and coordination may all be tested during a neurological exam, among other things. Difficulties in one or more brain areas may be signs of a brain tumor affecting a specific region of your brain.
  • Radiological tests: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a commonly used diagnostic tool for brain metastases. You can have an injection of dye into an arm vein during your MRI exam.
  • A range of specialized MRI scan components, including functional MRI, perfusion MRI, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy, may be used by your doctor to evaluate the cancer and choose the best course of action.
  • Two more imaging tests that could be carried out are computerized tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET). For example, if the type of initial tumor causing your brain metastases is unknown, you can have a CT scan of your chest to look for lung cancer.
  • Acquiring and analyzing an abnormal tissue biopsy sample: A biopsy can be performed using a needle or in conjunction with a brain tumor excision procedure. The biopsy sample is then seen under a microscope to determine whether the cells are from a primary tumor or metastatic cancer and to classify the sample as benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). This is necessary for making a diagnosis, estimating a prognosis, and planning a course of treatment.

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Treatment  Of Brain Metastasis

Treatments for brain metastases can improve prognosis, reduce symptoms, and halt cancer growth. Given that brain metastases often return even after effective therapy, your doctor will likely recommend regular monitoring after treatment. In certain cases, your treatment team may consider prescribing medication to treat brain metastases.

The best course of treatment for you will be determined by the kind, size, number, and location of the tumors in addition to your symptoms, preferences, and overall health. Talk to your doctor about the objectives of your treatment.

Medications 

Medication can help you feel more at ease and help control the signs and symptoms of brain metastases. Among the options are:

  • Corticosteroids: High-dose corticosteroids may be administered to reduce edema around brain metastases and consequently, signs and symptoms.
  • Medicines that stop seizures: If you experience a seizure, your doctor may recommend medicine to prevent further seizures.

Surgery

If surgery is an option for you and the sites of your brain metastases allow for simple access for the procedure, your surgeon will attempt to remove as much of the cancer as possible. Your symptoms may be lessened if the tumor is removed, even in small amounts.

Surgery to remove brain metastases carries some risks, such as bleeding, infection, and neurological deficits. There can be more risks based on the location of the tumors in your brain.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, such as protons and X-rays, to kill cancer cells. One or both of the following radiation therapy methods may be used as part of your treatment for brain metastases:

  • Radiation covers the whole brain: Whole-brain radiation exposes the brain to radiation to kill cancer cells. Patients undergoing whole-brain radiation usually require ten to fifteen sessions spaced out over two to three weeks. Exhaustion, nausea, and hair loss are a few of the adverse effects. Long-term whole-brain radiation exposure is associated with cognitive impairment.
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery: While each radiation beam utilized in stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is not very strong, the location of the convergence of all the beams, the brain tumor, receives a very high radiation dose that kills the tumor cells. With SRS, which is typically finished in a single therapy, doctors can treat many tumors in a single session. Possible adverse effects include headaches, nausea, dizziness or vertigo, and seizures. Compared to whole-brain radiation, there may be less risk of long-term cognitive decline after SRS.

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