Metastatic Brain Tumor Treatments

Metastatic brain tumors are treatable. The optimal treatment plan for metastatic brain or spine tumors is tailored to each patient and tumor individually. Your treatment will depend on:

  • The origin organ of your cancer
  • The location and number of metastatic tumors within your brain or spine
  • Your general health
  • Anticancer treatments you have received
  • Your symptom preferences for treatment

In general, metastatic brain tumors are commonly treated with surgery and/or radiation. They are increasingly also treated with novel targeted chemotherapy agents. If the brain tumor is part of a new cancer diagnosis, you will likely also need systemic therapy (chemotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy) for your primary tumor.

Surgery. Surgery is a common treatment for many types of brain tumors. Surgery is often also the first step to get tissue and establish a detailed diagnosis. For single or few solitary brain metastases, surgery may cure the disease.

Radiation therapy. Your physician may recommend radiation after surgery. If surgery is not an option, radiation may be an equivalent alternative treatment. Radiation is delivered to the whole brain in some cases. Or, nowadays, it is more often delivered locally when there are only a few brain metastases. For smaller metastases, high doses of radiation are delivered with high precision. This is called stereotactic radiosurgery. The most popular instrument for this type of radiation is the GammaKnife™.

Chemotherapy therapy. Chemotherapy uses medications to destroy cancer cells in your body.

Medication. Brain tumors often cause symptoms. These may include headaches, pain, seizures, mood swings and other issues. To help you feel better, your physician may prescribe medication.