Diseases and Conditions

Brain metastases

Overview

Brain metastases occur when cancer cells spread from their original site to the brain. Any cancer can spread to the brain, but the types most likely to cause brain metastases are lung, breast, colon, kidney and melanoma.

Brain metastases, or secondary brain tumors, occur in 10 to 30 percent of adults with cancer. As the metastatic brain tumors grow, they create pressure on and change the function of surrounding brain tissue. Brain metastases can cause many signs and symptoms.

Treatment for people whose cancer has spread to the brain is often surgery, radiation therapy or both. In some cases, chemotherapy and immunotherapy are helpful. Treatment is often focused on reducing pain and symptoms resulting from the cancer.