Metastatic Brain Cancer Treatment

Metastatic brain cancer, also known as secondary brain cancer, occurs when a brain tumor originates at another place in the body (known as the primary tumor site), and then spreads (metastasizes) to the brain, forming one or more additional tumors. In recent years, the incidence of metastatic brain cancer has increased as people live longer due to advanced treatments for primary cancer.

How metastatic brain cancer forms

Many types of primary tumors can spread to the brain, but some of the most common include:

  • Lung cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Malignant melanoma

Regardless of where a primary tumor originates, cells from this tumor can break off and travel through lymphatic vessels and the bloodstream to other areas of the body, including the brain.

Leading the way on metastatic brain tumor treatment

The Hermelin Brain Tumor Center offers a dedicated program for cancer that has metastasized to the brain, spine and cerebrospinal fluid. Although many believe that metastatic brain and spine tumors cannot be treated effectively, treatment advancements are providing new hope for these patients

In fact, Henry Ford has led the development of comprehensive national guidelines for treatment of metastatic brain tumors:

  • This set of guidelines was developed in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of experts in neurosurgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology and neuro-oncology from around the country.
  • These options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery and novel drug therapies – as well as combinations of these treatments.
  • These recommended treatment options have been adopted by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.
  • The metastatic brain cancer treatment guidelines were first implemented with Henry Ford patients.

Advanced treatment options for metastatic brain cancer

Henry Ford metastatic brain tumor specialists are experienced in treating complex cases and offer the latest treatment options, including:

  • Radiosurgery: For people with multiple brain tumors that cannot be removed surgically, non-invasive radiosurgery that delivers precise radiation may be an option. Henry Ford Hospital was the first in the United States to offer the EDGE®, the most advanced radiosurgery treatment available. The Hermelin Brain Tumor Center participates in a national study evaluating the effectiveness of this technique with or without whole-brain radiation therapy.
  • Radiation-enhancing drugs: Henry Ford investigators also are exploring the use of these novel drugs to improve outcomes and quality of life for patients with multiple metastatic brain tumors.
  • Metastatic brain tumor clinical trials: Our neuro-oncologists also are active in collaborative research that explores the mechanisms of metastatic brain cancer growth. This research helps to give us a better understanding of how metastatic brain tumors grow, and this knowledge is used to develop new treatment options.

Side effects of metastatic brain cancer treatment

One concern you may have is potential side effects of metastatic brain cancer treatment. With any treatment, there is the potential for side effects, which can vary depending on the type of therapies you receive. Your Hermelin Brain Tumor Center team will review your personalized treatment plan with you and discuss possible side effects before treatment begins, so that you can make informed decisions about your metastatic brain tumor care.

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Clinical Trials

Cancer Institute