Metastasis is the process where cancerous cells from one part of the body spread to other areas. When these cells spread to the brain, the clusters of malignant and cancerous cells are referred to as brain metastasis. Brain metastasis is not the same as brain cancer since the cancerous cells originated in a different part of the body before spreading to the brain. Metastasis can develop long after a patient has undergone and completed cancer treatment.
Unfortunately, brain metastases are extremely common among cancer patients, with about 170,000 cases diagnosed each year, outranking the development of lymphoma (79,030 cases), primary brain tumors (62,000 cases), and colon cancer (102,480 cases) each year. If you have been diagnosed with brain metastasis, talk to our physicians at Anchorage Radiation Oncology Center. Brain metastasis can be treated to improve your quality of life, so contact the experts that will be by your side in your battle against cancer.
SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF BRAIN METASTASIS
Symptoms for brain metastasis vary on a case-by-case basis, but it is possible for there to be no noticeable symptoms. That’s why it’s crucial for you to keep your regularly scheduled check-ups with your doctor, so they can runs scans, diagnose any existing areas that need treatment, and get you started on a treatment plan as soon as possible. Below are some possible symptoms that could be signs of developed brain metastasis:
• Blurred Or Double Vision
• Memory And/Or Personality Changes
• Speech Changes
• Numbness Or A Weakness In Part Of Your Body
• Problems With Balance
If you are going through cancer treatment, or have had cancer treatment in the past, contact your doctor immediately if you start to notice any of the above symptoms. Even if they are not caused by brain metastasis, these symptoms could be signs of other conditions that need professional diagnosis and treatment.
TREATMENT FOR BRAIN METASTASIS
While brain metastasis cannot be cured, the symptoms can often be controlled. Treatment can improve the patient’s quality of life . Survival rates of brain metastasis depend on many factors, such as the origin of the cancer, if it has spread to other parts of the body, and how the cancerous cells respond to treatment. The number of brain metastasis also plays a role. For those suffering from brain metastasis, available treatments include:
• Radiation Therapy – Also called radiotherapy, this form of treatment uses targeted radiation to destroy cancer cells and preserve healthy cells. Radiation therapy is often very effective at treating brain metastasis, since the radiation can penetrate the blood brain barrier and can penetrate the brain to kill cancer cells.
• Surgery – usually used in the case of a single brain metastasis, surgical treatment will not only help more accurately diagnose the extent of brain metastasis, but also help relieve pressure on the brain for some much needed relief.
• Chemotherapy – This method uses medication to kill the cancer cells. Unfortunately, chemotherapy can sometimes have a limited effect when treating brain metastasis due to the blood-brain barrier, which restricts what can travel from the blood into the brain. While this barrier may prevent some chemotherapy drugs from entering the brain, there are newer drugs which show promise.
EXTERNAL BEAM RADIATION THERAPY FOR BRAIN METASTASIS
At Anchorage Radiation Oncology Center, we specialize in helping patients fight cancer with radiation focused treatments that are safe and effective. External beam radiation therapy is one such treatment method that can help combat various forms of cancer, including brain metastasis. Our doctors and caring staff are passionate about making treatment as comfortable as possible for our patients, and with external beam radiation therapy, treatment sessions only last a few minutes and are completely painless.
When treating brain metastasis, external beam radiation therapy can be used to treat the entire brain, or target specific parts of the brain affected by the cancerous or malignant cells with more concentrated radiation called “stereotactic radiosurgery”. It is also possible for both of these treatment methods to be used simultaneously. When you choose Peninsula Radiation Oncology Center, you also have access to Alaska’s only state-of-the-art, frameless stereotactic radiosurgery system, The Alaska CyberKnife Center at Providence Cancer Center in Anchorage.
Before treatment begins, your physician will meet with you to review your treatment options. If external beam radiation therapy is deemed the best treatment option for you, the doctor will start a process called “simulation” to map the areas that require treatment using x-rays and CT scans. A custom, plastic mask is usually used to keep you in position during treatment.
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