What is a Metastatic Brain Tumor?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2018
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Metastasis is a condition in which a cancer that originated in one area of the body spreads and begins to affect other body parts or organs. A metastatic brain tumor is a cancerous mass that forms in the brain and is the result of cancer from another part of the body. Swelling can occur in the brain as a result of a tumor and can end up causing pressure to build against surrounding areas of the brain, as well as the skull. Brain tumors and other forms of cancer do not have one proven cure, but treatments options are available. The success rate of the treatments tends to depend on the severity of the condition, how far it has spread, and which organs or body parts are affected.

Although the specific symptoms of a metastatic brain tumor can vary depending on each individual case, there are some common symptoms that are most likely to occur. Since the tumor can cause pressure in the brain, it may affect a variety of sensory functions. Common symptoms include lack of coordination and judgment, dizziness, seizures, sudden changes in behavior, lethargy, numbness and tingling throughout the body, or changes in vision. It can also cause sudden, severe headaches, weakness, fatigue, and vomiting.


A metastatic brain tumor is caused by cancer that forms in another part of the body and then spreads to the brain. This type of tumor tends to be more common than brain tumors that actually originate in the brain itself. Cancers that may be most likely to spread to the brain include breast cancer, kidney cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, testicular cancer, and bladder cancer.

As with other forms of cancer, the treatment for a metastatic brain tumor will usually depend on the severity of the condition, how large the tumor is, and what other body parts are affected. One form of treatment is surgery to either remove the tumor; if the tumor is large and not able to be fully removed, a surgeon will generally remove as much of the tumor as possible in order to reduce its size and the amount of pressure it puts on the brain. Radiation therapy, in which high-energy radiation is applied to cancer cells in an attempt to destroy then, may also be performed. If the tumor cannot be eliminated, medications such as corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, and pain relievers, may be prescribed to temporarily treat the symptoms of the condition and allow for a more comfortable quality of life.



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