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Metastatic Brain Tumors

Metastatic brain tumors are cancers that have spread from their site of origin. The most common are:
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Certain sarcomas
  • Germ cell tumors
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Melanoma


Metastatic tumors in the brain or spinal cord are diagnosed with computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Such scans often detect multiple tumors.


Therapies for these tumors vary depending on the size, origin and location of the tumor(s). They include:

  • Surgical management

Surgery may be indicated when the primary disease is under control, the tumor is both accessible and large, the tumor is symptomatic or life-threatening and when the cause is unknown. Patients who don't respond to other treatments may also be a candidate for surgery.

Our neurosurgeons use the most advanced microsurgical techniques and technologies to minimize trauma while removing the tumor(s). Stereotactic biopsies may be performed to aid in diagnosing deep lesions.

  • Radiation therapy

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is used to deliver high doses of radiation directly to a tumor while protecting the surrounding tissue. It can be used in some cases to treat multiple small tumors.

Radiation may also be directed at a specific part of the brain, usually the area where a tumor was surgically removed.

Whole brain radiation may be recommended for patients with multiple metastatic tumors when SRS is not an option.

  • Medical management

Patients with metastatic brain tumors are sometimes prescribed anticonvulsant medication to prevent seizures.

Steroids may be necessary to decrease the amount of swelling in the brain or spinal cord.

Chemotherapy also may be recommended by your oncologist.

Intraventricular chemotherapy may be recommended in the event of a diagnosis of leptomeningeal metastases.

For more information or to make an appointment, please call 714-456-8000 or email us. A team physician will respond within 24 hours.

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