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Brain tumour:metastases: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About brain tumour: metastases

Brain tumour refers to the tumour growth in brain which can be primary or secondary. Primary brain tumour is the one where the tumour arises from the brain cells whereas the secondary brain tumour develops in some other organ before spreading to the brain. The phenomenon of the spread of tumour from original site to other areas of the body is called metastases. Lung and breast cancer are the commonest malignancies which spread to the brain resulting in secondary brain tumour.

Brain tumour: metastases: Incidence, Age and Sex

Brain tumours are an infrequent occurrence in the general population. However, the incidence of secondary brain tumours seems to be more than that of primary brain tumours. Though it is mainly documented in adults, children may also rarely present with it.

Signs and symptoms of brain tumour: metastases: Diagnosis

The metastasized brain tumour may present in different ways. Some individuals may be asymptomatic for a long time; and some may present with clinical features of primary tumour which depend on the organ involved. However, a majority of the individuals may experience typical features of brain tumour like persistent headache, nausea, vomiting or convulsions which may result from raised intracranial pressure. Other features may include weakness of limbs, speech problems, loss of memory, vision impairment, difficulty in walking or loss of sense of smell. It is advisable to consult a specialist who will conduct a comprehensive neurological examination.

Other investigations like CT scans and MRI scans will help in establishing the diagnosis. Spinal fluid analysis or biopsy of the brain tissue may also help in detection of the tumour cells, which may help in establishing the secondary nature of the brain tumour. Other investigations like chest x-rays, bone scans, mammography and blood tests will aid in detecting primary tumour in the body.

Causes and prevention of brain tumour: metastases

Secondary or metastatic brain tumour may spread to the brain from other sites of body from where it originated. Lung and breast cancer are the commonest cancers spreading to the brain. Other cancers like bowel cancer, melanoma of the skin or cancer in the kidneys may also spread to the brain. The mode of spread may be direct wherein the cancer locally invades the nearby organ or via bloodstream or via lymph fluid in the body.

Brain tumour: metastases: Complications

A brain tumour, irrespective of being primary or secondary in nature, may result in functional impairment of the various organs. Features like loss of vision or impairment of thought process or serious behavioural changes and uncoordinated movements may be seen in some individuals. In severe cases, it may manifest as profound neurological loss.

Brain tumour: metastases: Treatment

It is essential to establish whether the diagnosed brain tumour is primary or secondary, since the management plan may differ in both cases. The primary treatment modality in secondary brain tumour is radiotherapy which helps in shrinking the tumour growth. Surgery may also be considered in some cases, where there is a solitary tumour growth in an easily accessible site. In some instances, medications like high dose steroids or diuretics like mannitol may be given to the individual to reduce the intracranial pressure and alleviate distressing symptoms. Chemotherapeutic drugs fail to contribute much in treating brain tumours. Moreover it is of paramount importance to detect the primary tumour in the body and concurrently manage it along with the brain tumour. The survival rate of secondary tumours is not good even after appropriate treatment.