It’s estimated that each year more than 170,000 patients are diagnosed with brain metastases—or cancer that has started elsewhere in the body and spread to the brain— according to the National Brain Tumor Society. Brain metastases are the most common type of brain cancer.
What are brain metastases?
Cancer cells can spread, or metastasize, from the original tumor site. Traveling via the bloodstream or lymphatic system, these cells can take up residence in other parts of the body, spreading the cancer. In most cases of metastatic brain cancer, the cancer originated in the lungs. However, cancer can also spread to the brain from other parts of the body, such as the breasts, skin, colon, kidneys and pancreas.
Who develops brain metastases?
Brain metastases are more common among middle-aged people, as well as elderly men and women.
What are the symptoms of brain metastases?
As brain metastases grow, they can press against, displace or destroy brain tissue. This can cause symptoms such as headaches, seizures, weakness, vision problems, movement issues, paralysis, nausea or vomiting, fatigue and difficulties with cognitive function (memory, talking, etc.). Some people have no symptoms.
How are brain metastases diagnosed?
Brain metastases may be diagnosed through various imaging methods, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) or positron emission tomography (PET) scans, as well as through a biopsy, or the analysis of tissue samples taken from the tumor.
How are brain metastases treated?
Several factors need to be considered when determining treatment, such as the size, location and type of tumor, as well as individual health status. Treatment options may include surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS; such as Gamma Knife treatment offered at The Valley Hospital’s Gamma Knife Center, part of the hospital’s Institute for Brain and Spine Radiosurgery), radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. Cancer symptoms can often be managed through medications and complementary therapies as well.
More than 100,000 patients have been treated with the Gamma Knife SRS for brain metastases. Research studies have shown that stereotactic radiosurgery has improved patient outcomes compared to whole brain radiation therapy. SRS minimizes memory loss or other compromising symptoms that can be experienced with typical whole brain irradiation. The Valley Hospital’s Gamma Knife is designed for fast, efficient treatment of one or multiple brain metastases. In fact, no other technology can treat multiple tumors in the brain with the same clinical outcome and speed as the Gamma Knife Perfexion, the latest and most advanced Gamma Knife technology.
Call the Gamma Knife Center at 201-634-5677 or complete the contact form for more information or to set up a consultation. Learn more about clinical trials for brain cancer at Valley.