Metastatic Brain Tumors
Metastatic brain tumors, also known as secondary brain tumors, start somewhere else in the body and spread to the brain. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, they are the most common types of brain tumors among adults. They are usually malignant and travel to the brain through the blood stream. The neurosurgeons at Mount Sinai’s Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program work collaboratively to diagnose and develop treatment options for brain tumor patients.
Usually, we find metastatic brain tumors incidentally, when we are conducting routine scanning. Usually, they spread from cancer in the breast, gastrointestinal tract, kidney, lung, or skin (melanoma).
Brain tumors can grow in any region of the brain, though they rarely appear in the back of the skull. If you have a metastatic brain tumor, you can have a wide variety of symptoms, depending on the size and location of the tumor. These symptoms can include dizziness, headaches including migraines, lack of balance, overall weakness, personality changes, seizures (though these are more common in low-grade gliomas), sensory loss, and changes in vision.
As advances in chemotherapy prolong the life of cancer patients, the rate of secondary tumors has increased because the tumors are given more time to migrate to the brain.
Our neurosurgeons work with oncologists at the Ruttenberg Treatment Center, to coordinate care. Our goal is to improve your quality of life of the patient during treatment. Typically, we use chemotherapy (either delivered into the spinal fluid or into a vein), stereotactic radiation therapy, and surgery, or a combination of these. We also offer support from social workers and physical and occupational therapists who are very familiar with the specific need of brain cancer patients. In addition, we provide palliative care options should they become appropriate at any point.