A metastatic brain tumour is sometimes referred to as a secondary brain tumour. It occurs when cancer in another part of the body spreads to the brain. When affected cells reach the brain they can grow and form another tumour.
The common primary sources of such tumours include the breast, the lung, the kidney or the bowel. At times, although there is a secondary brain tumour, the primary source might remain unknown. It is not unusual that the symptoms relating to secondary brain tumour might be the first sign of cancer in another location.
Metastatic brain tumours occur in approximately one fourth of all cancers that spread through the body. They are far more common than primary brain tumours.
Generally, the symptoms of a metastatic brain tumour include:
The size of the tumour and the swelling in the brain around the abnormal tumour tissue may contribute to the severity of these symptoms. The signs and symptoms can differ depending on the location, size, and whether the tumour is solitary or multiple.
Neuroaxis uses a clinical evaluation as well as radiological testing to make the diagnosis. The diagnostic test of choice for such tumours is an MRI scan.
The onset of symptoms in a patient with a known primary tumour will usually raise the suspicion of a possible brain tumour. At times, routine follow up surveillance can pick up metastatic brain tumours.
The treatment plan for secondary brain tumours depends on the size, location, number of tumours and the site from which the primary tumour has spread. Treatment include medication and surgery.
Post-surgical treatment options can include chemotherapy. Radiotherapy is also an option. This could include either whole brain radiation or stereotactic radiosurgery.
Neuroaxis will discuss these treatment options after obtaining the pathology reports.
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