Metastatic brain cancer is secondary cancer that doesn’t originate in the brain. It is the sort of cancer that is spread to the brain by the blood circulatory system of the body’s lymphatic system and is most often a result of breast, lung, colon and renal cancers that have migrated to the brain.
Cancer that metastasizes to the brain is usually a result of systemic cancer; which has originated in one place and has migrated to one or more other sites.
The irony of metastatic brain cancer
An estimated 40% of intracranial neoplasms (brain tumors) are metastatic brain cancers; that is to say that they occur as a result of cancers elsewhere. But the irony is that it is better cancer survival rates of cancer due to which we have seen a rise in metastatic forms of brain cancer.
As cancer diagnosis becomes more accurate and treatments more effective, people are living longer and surviving their cancer better but the incidence of the cancer metastasizing to the brain has also increased. It is metastatic brain cancer that is most often seen to be responsible for the actual death of a cancer patient.
In about 25% of cancers that are systemic; which spread through the body, metastasis of the cancer to the brain happens.
Symptoms of metastatic brain cancer
The symptoms of metastatic cancer of the brain are much the same as those of primary brain cancer but they can vary greatly from person to person, depending upon the location of the tumor, its size and its nature.
There could be headaches that are recent or more severe than before.
Clumsiness, falls, poor physical coordination could occur as the brain tumor starts to impinge upon the brain tissue. Numbness, tingling sensations and pain could also be present.
Difficulties with memory and judgement, impaired problem solving abilities may be observed. Similarly there could be personality changes, rapid mood changes, emotional disturbances, confusion, and unpredictable behavior as well.
Tiredness, lethargy, fever and the general feeling of being unwell are among the symptoms of metastatic brain cancer.
Problems may arise with regard to speech. Certain parts of the body may experience weakness. There could also be disturbances in vision depending upon the part of the brain that the tumor is putting pressure on. If the optic nerve is being impinged upon vision disturbance could occur for instance.
Vomiting is another symptom and this could occur with or without nausea.
Seizures may also be among the symptom of a cancer that metastasizes to the brain.
As the brain cancer advances or worsens, a person’s symptoms could get progressively worse. As more and more of the brain gets affected by the tumor, more of its functioning becomes impaired. It could be that the cancer sufferer becomes unable to care for themselves and their social skills may decline to the extent that they are no longer able to interact with others.
There could be deep and permanent neurologic losses that grow progressively worse with the progress of the metastatic brain cancer. In some cases brain herniation could take place which is fatal for the patient.