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Brain Metastases Symptoms: Warning Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

cancer patient at appointment

Brain metastases — cancers that start somewhere else in the body and spread to the brain — are far more common than cancers that begin in the brain.

Part of the reason we see more brain mets? More people today are living longer with cancer because of effective treatments. And because people are living longer, there’s more time for cancer to spread to their brains.

Brain Metastases Symptoms

When cancer spreads (metastasizes) to the brain, it can cause distressing symptoms. Often, the symptoms arise because the growths put increased pressure on your brain. Just like with any cancer, symptoms depend on:

You may develop brain metastases and experience symptoms after a cancer diagnosis. That’s most common. Or brain mets symptoms may be your first sign of any cancer, explains UVA Health neuro-oncologist Camilo Fadul, MD.

Brain metastases symptoms to watch for include:

“Occasionally, brain metastases symptoms occur suddenly, like with a stroke, due to bleeding from these tumors in the brain,” Fadul says.

The 5 Cancers Most Likely to Spread to the Brain

Need Care for Brain Metastases?

UVA Health’s team includes experts in medical oncology, radiation oncology, neurosurgery, palliative care, and neuro-oncology — all working together to give you more time and quality of life.

Any cancer can spread to the brain. But the most common cancers that cause brain metastases are:

Not every patient has brain metastases symptoms when their cancer spreads to the brain. If you have 1 of these 5 cancers, your doctor may recommend regular imaging to check for brain metastases. Regular imaging may also be recommended for advanced cancers.

Regular imaging helps with early detection. The sooner we know about symptoms, the quicker we can determine the right treatment.

When Cancer Spreads to the Brain

Brain metastases treatment focuses on extending length and quality of life.

“Given the complex decision-making involved in these cases, a team that provides coordinated and consistent care serves patients best,” Fadul says.

At UVA Health, our doctors have treated brain metastases for years. They’ll use the latest advanced options to get you the best possible outcome while managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life.

Tags: cancer

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