Brain Metastases

What are brain metastases?

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Brain metastases are brain tumors that appear in the brain but arise from other locations in the body. When patients develop cancer, cancer cells can spread to other locations, including the brain. While cells from melanoma, lung cancer, and breast cancer most commonly travel to the brain, other cancers can spread to this location as well.

As a result, brain metastases represent the most common type of brain tumor, affecting over 200,000 patients annually in the U.S.  Because metastases can develop anywhere in the brain, patient symptoms vary based on tumor location. Patients can present with single metastases or multiple tumors. 

Cancer cells can also travel to the lining of the brain called the leptomeninges rather than the tissue of the brain. This condition, called leptomeningeal disease, is a type of brain metastasis. 

Why rely on Washington University experts for treatment of brain metastases?

Treating brain metastases requires a team of neurological surgeons, medical and neuro-oncologists, and radiation oncologists.  It is necessary to treat the primary cancer as well as the brain metastases that arise from it, so a multi-disciplinary approach is required to deliver world class care.  At Washington University, we have developed a Brain Metastasis Center of Excellence to bring a cutting edge, team-based, and patient-focused approach to treating these tumors. 

Treatments

Cutting-edge treatments for brain metastases include the following: