Metastatic Brain Tumors

Metastatic Brain Tumors

A secondary brain tumor is most commonly referred to as a metastatic brain tumor. A metastatic brain tumor forms when cancer from another part of the body spreads to the brain. Brain metastasis can present as a single tumor or many tumors and are always designated as cancerous brain tumors.

These cancers start somewhere else in your body and travel to the brain. Lung, breast, kidney, colon, and melanoma (skin) cancers are typically the most common cancers that spread to the brain. 

When a tumor spreads to the brain, it is not called brain cancer. Rather, it is named after the part of the body where the cancer started. Lung cancer that spreads to the brain is called metastatic lung cancer, breast cancer that spreads to the brain is called metastatic breast cancer, and so on.

BREAST CANCER

  • An estimated 5% of patients with breast cancer develop brain metastases.

  • Metastases typically occur a few years after breast cancer is diagnosed (on average, 46 months).

  • Brain metastases from breast cancer is more common in women with triple-negative and HER2-positive breast cancer.

  • A single brain metastasis is more common with breast cancer than with other primary tumors.

COLON/COLORECTAL CANCER

  • An estimated 1% to 4% of patients with colon cancer develop brain metastases.

  • These tumors typically occur a few years after colorectal cancer is found (on average, 26 to 42 months).

  • A single brain metastasis tumor is common.

KIDNEY/RENAL CELL CARCINOMA

  • An estimated 2% to 16% of patients with kidney cancer develop brain metastases.
  • Metastases typically occur about one year after kidney cancer is diagnosed (on average, 10 months).
  • A single brain metastasis tumor is common.

LUNG CANCER

  • An estimated 23% to 36% of patients with lung cancer develop brain metastases.
  • These tumors typically occur a few months after lung cancer is found (on average, 4 months). However, it is not uncommon for lung cancer to be diagnosed at the same time the brain metastasis is discovered.
  • When patients have metastatic brain tumors and no primary diagnosis is found, two-thirds of them will develop lung cancer.
  • Multiple brain metastasis tumors are common.

MELANOMA

  • An estimated 7% to 10% of patients with melanoma develop brain metastases.
  • These tumors typically occur a few years after melanoma is found (on average, 22 to 37 months).
  • Multiple brain metastases tumors are common.

Overview

Metastatic Brain Tumor Initiative

Learn about the important work ABTA is doing to improve research and care for patients with metastatic brain tumors.

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