Metastatic brain tumors are caused by cancer cells that have relocated into the brain from a different part of the body. Cancerous cells can break away from the primary tumor and find their way into the brain through the bloodstream. These cells typically end up in the cerebral hemispheres of the cerebellum. This can cause cancerous tumors to spread to the spine as well. You are five times more likely to develop a Metastatic brain tumor than those that originate in the brain.
The team of industry-leading surgeons and practitioners at the University of Illinois Neuro-Oncology Department specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of rare and complex conditions. We have some of the most advanced technology and treatment methods available, giving our patients the greatest opportunity for treatment or management of neurological conditions.
Symptoms of a Metastatic Brain Tumor
Common signs and symptoms:
- Weakness in the arms or legs
- Loss of balance
- Memory loss
- Speech disturbance
- Behavior and personality changes
- Blurred vision/vision disturbance
- Hearing loss
How are Metastatic Brain Tumors Diagnosed?
Metastatic brain and spine tumors are most commonly discovered when obvious symptoms begin appearing and cause the patient health concerns. At UIC, our team utilizes a combination of the following methods to diagnose a metastatic brain tumor:
- Physical exam: uses symptom information and family health history as a starting point, followed by physical, vision, and reflex examination.
- Neurological exam
- CT scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Biopsy: a small tissue sample is extracted to screen for cancerous cells
Metastatic Brain Tumor Treatment
Metastatic brain tumors are treatable in most cases and can be well controlled with careful intervention. Treatment will differ for each patient as the aggressiveness and impact of the tumor will vary for each person. Our team carefully considers the most appropriate treatment for your condition, considering these factors:
- The status of your primary cancer
- How many metastatic tumors you currently have and their location
- Your general health and personal preferences
- The severity of your current symptoms
Surgically removing metastatic tumors drastically reduces the amount of pressure inside the skull, providing noticeable relief in a matter of hours if pressure was the main cause of symptoms. The most common surgical method used to remove metastatic brain tumors is a craniotomy, which involves removing a small section of the skull, allow the surgeon access to remove the mass.
The goal of surgery is to remove as much of the mass as possible, relieving intracranial pressure, while mitigating as much neurological damage as possible. There are a few considerations with regard to tumor surgery:
- Neurologic deficits correlate with the location of the tumor
- Your primary cancer must be treatable and under control
- Surgery is most viable when one or more tumors are located near each other and have a low difficulty of removal
Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) is a treatment method that focuses high doses of radiation at a tumor or the target while limiting the exposure of radiation to the surrounding normal tissue. Though it is called “surgery”, no knife or scalpel is used. The treatment may be useful for tumors that are in places where conventional surgery would harm essential tissue, for example, in the brain or spinal cord, or when a patient’s condition does not permit conventional surgery.
Metastatic Tumor Treatment at the University of Illinois, Chicago
If you are experiencing symptoms associated with metastatic tumors or have already received a diagnosis and are looking for a team of experts to provide a second opinion, unparalleled treatment, and condition management, reach out to the University of Illinois Neuro-Oncology Department today.