May is Brain Cancer Awareness Month, which makes this a good time to learn about metastatic brain cancer.
Overall, the chance that a person will develop a malignant tumour of the brain or spinal cord in their lifetime is less than 1%, according to the American Cancer Society.
Nevertheless, nearly 19,000 people in the United States will die from brain and spinal cord tumours in 2023.
A brain tumour is a growth of cells in the brain or near it, including in nerves, the pituitary gland, the pineal gland and the membranes that cover the surface of the brain.
Brain tumours that begin in or near the brain are called primary brain tumours.
Sometimes, cancer spreads to the brain from other parts of the body.
These tumours are secondary or metastatic brain tumours.
Any cancer can spread, or metastasise, to the brain, but the types most likely to cause brain metastases are lung, breast, colon, kidney and melanoma.
Brain metastases may form one tumour or many tumours in the brain.
As the metastatic brain tumours grow, they create pressure on, and change the function of, surrounding brain tissue.
This causes signs and symptoms, such as headache, personality changes, memory loss and seizures.
Treatment for brain metastases can help ease symptoms, slow tumour growth and extend life.
Even with successful treatment however, brain metastases often recur, so your healthcare team will recommend close follow-up after treatment.
Treatment options for people with brain metastases often include medication, surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery, whole-brain radiation therapy, or some combination of these.
In certain situations, your treatment team may consider drug treatments for brain metastases.
Because brain tumours can develop in parts of the brain that control motor skills, speech, vision and thinking, rehabilitation may be a necessary part of recovery.
The best treatment plan for you will depend on the type, size, number and location of the tumours, as well as your signs and symptoms, overall health, and personal preferences.
Talk with your healthcare team about your goals for treatment. – By Laurel Kelly/Mayo Clinic News Network/Tribune News Service