What is secondary brain cancer?
A diagnosis of brain metastasis (a single tumour) or metastases (more than one tumour) is sometimes referred to as a secondary cancer or brain secondary. To make it simpler, these tumours tend to be referred to as brain met. This means you have a tumour or tumours in your brain that appear to have spread from a primary cancer (a cancer that started elsewhere in your body, outside of the brain). The reason why some cancers spread to the brain and the timing of this are not fully understood.
Who gets secondary brain cancer?
People with a secondary brain tumour, or brain met are most likely to already have lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer, or skin cancer. These are the cancers that most commonly spread to the brain, and people will already be living with the devastating impact of their primary diagnosis. A tumour that has spread has spread from another cancer site to the brain will be made up of the cancer cells of the original tumour – for example if you have a brain metastasis from breast cancer, then the tumour in the brain will have the same cells as the cancer in your breast.
Data on secondary brain cancer is limited. We do know that brain metastases are one of the most common neurologic complications of cancer. The incidence is 9%-17% based on various studies, and the exact incidence is thought to be higher. The incidence is increasing with improved imaging techniques which aid diagnosis. Effective treatment regimens for primary cancers also now prolong life, thus allowing cancer to disseminate to the brain. Lung cancer, breast cancer, and melanoma are the most frequent to develop brain metastases, and account for 67%-80% of all cancers (1).
The new brain metastasis resource
Best estimates tell us that 16000 people every year are told that their cancer has spread to their brain (2). Until now there has not been a dedicated resource to help this community who face a unique and complicated set of challenges.
The new brain mets resource from brainstrust is for people who have heard the news that their cancer has spread to their brain. It is also helpful for people caring for someone with a brain metastasis. The guide covers:
- Symptoms of secondary brain cancer
- Treatment of secondary brain cancer
- How to live better after diagnosis
- Tips for caregivers
- Ways to meet others and be less alone
It is a readable, easy to understand guide designed to give you direction and confidence when you have just heard more difficult news on your journey with cancer.
Are a healthcare professional or from an organisation that supports people with brain metastasis? If so, please order copies for the people under your care here.
(1) Epidemiology of brain metastases
Lakshmi Nayak 1, Eudocia Quant Lee, Patrick Y Wen
(2) Brain tumour research in the United Kingdom: current perspective and future challenges. A strategy document from the NCRI Brain Tumor CSG
Kathreena M Kurian, Michael D Jenkinson, Paul M Brennan, Robin Grant, Sarah Jefferies, Alasdair G Rooney, Helen Bulbeck, Sara C Erridge, Samantha Mills, Catherine McBain, Martin G McCabe, Stephen J Price, Silvia Marino, Erica Moyes, Wendy Qian, Adam Waldman, Babar Vaqas, Debbie Keatley, Peter Burchill, and Colin Watts