Metastatic Brain Tumor
Many cancer types that forms in other part of the body can spread or metastasize to the brain. The most common types of cancer that spread to the brain are breast, lung, breast, colon, kidney and thyroid. Growing brain tumors can place pressure on nearby parts of the brain. Brain swelling due to these tumors also causes increased pressure within the skull.
If you are suffering from any cranial or brain conditions, we urge you to see our brain specialists at ONE® Brain & Spine Center® for consultation so we may help alleviate your pain and improve your quality of life. Call (949) 383-4190 to schedule an appointment.
Symptoms of metastatic brain tumor varies depending on size and location of the tumor. The most common symptoms are those caused by increased pressure in the brain:
- Decreased coordination
- Weakness or lethargy
- Memory loss or decreased mental agility
- Numbness, tingling, pain
- Blurry or double vision
- Eratic or strange emotions or behavior
- SPeech difficulties
- Headache or nausea
A neurologic examination by your team of neurosurgeons at ONE™ Brain & Spine Center™ can show brain and nervous system changes based on where the tumor is in the brain. However, some tumors may not show signs until they are very large. Signs of increased pressure in the skull are also common and can cause a very quick decline in nervous system function. Tests may include:
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – MRI of the brain to confirm diagnosis and identify location of the tumor.
Computerized Tomography (CT Scan)- Scans of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis to find the original tumor site.
Biopsy- Minimally invasive nature of fine needle aspiration biopsy may be required to confirm to confirm the type of tumor.
Spinal Tap- Lumbar puncture to get a sample of cerebrospinal fluid to healp diagnose serious infections.
Treatment of metastatic brain tumor depends on the size and type of the tumor, from where in the body it spread, and the patient’s general health. The goals of treatment may be to relieve symptoms, improve functioning and provide comfort. Radiation to the whole brain is also often used to treat tumors that have spread to the brain, especially if there is multiple tumors. Surgery is the recommended treatment when there is a single tumor and the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body. It is possible for a metatstatic brain tumor to be completely removed. In case the tumor cannot be removed, survery can help reduce the pressure and relive symptoms. Tumors that are deep or that extend into brain tissue may be debulked (reduced in size).
Chemotherapy for metastatic brain tumor is not usually used because some metastatic brain tumors do not respond to this treatment. Stereotactic radiosurgery is another option.
Minimally Invasive Surgical Treatments
- Endoscopic Transsphenoidal Surgery- The endoscopic transsphenoidal surgical procedure uses a light called endoscope inserted into the nostril and sphenoid sinus to access and remove tumors. The term transsphenoidal literally means “through the sphenoid sinus.”
- Supraorbital Eyebrow Craniotomy- The supraorbital craniotomy uses an incision within the eyebrow, to create a small opening above the orbit.
- Retromastoid Approach- The retromastoid approach is performed through an incision behind the ear and a small bony opening that allows access to the back portion of the brain where the brainstem and nerves are located.
- Stereotactic Radiosurgery-
Stereotactic radiosurgery such as Gamma Knife® send out highly focused beams of radiation aimed at a tumor from multiple angles, an advanced specialty that is best performed by highly trained and experienced neurosurgeon.
When the cancer has spread, treatment is more focused supportive care to relieve pain and other symptoms.