Due to lack of highly curable therapy for brain metastases, the prognosis for this condition is poor. The approach for the treatment is to prolong the life of the patient and improving the quality of life.
How Long Can You Live With Brain Metastases?
Brain metastases are the condition in which the tumor from other part of the body, crossing the blood brain barrier, spread in to the brain. Brain metastases leads a to variety of neurological symptoms such as decline in cognitive ability, dizziness, nausea, problem in swallowing, difficulty in breathing, speech difficulty, vision changes and abnormal bowel movement. The patient also has problem in balancing and coordination. Thus, due to brain metastases, the quality of life of the patient reduced.
Unfortunately, the prognosis of brain metastases is very poor due to lack of any effective treatment therapy.
As of now, there is no viable treatment available that can completely cure brain metastases. So, in almost all the cases, the result is fatal. This is due to the complexity of the brain, which does not allow the complete removal of the tumor. Further, as the cancer is metastasized, it is very difficult to control the cancer. The treatment strategies adopted by the oncologists and surgeons has their own limitations. Chemotherapy has little efficacy due to the fact that the chemotherapeutic drugs does not cause the blood brain barrier in the sufficient concentration to kill the cancer cells. Surgery has its limitation in the way that various tumors in the brain at located in the areas having limited accessibility. Radiotherapy, which is generally followed by surgery, has its own side effects such as cognitive dysfunction, dementia and other neurological effects.
If the treatment is done with steroids only, the survival of the patients is one month only. The prognosis of the patent also depends upon the age of the patient and type of primary cancer. The patients with single site brain metastases have medial survival rate of up to 13.5 months. For evaluating the prognosis due to various primary cancers, Karnofsky performance score is used.
Brain Metastases Symptoms
The symptoms of the brain metastases depend upon the location and size of the tumor. Following are the symptoms due to brain metastases:
Seizures: As the tumor influences the normal nerve conduction mechanism inside the brain, seizures may be experienced by the patient suffering from brain metastases. Muscular abnormalities may also develop due to brain metastases.
Dementia: Cognitive dysfunction is also the symptom of brain metastases. Brain metastases may affect that particular part of the brain that is involved in memory and intelligence.
Dizziness: The patient with brain metastases may experience orientation problem and balancing difficulty. It also includes nausea and vomiting.
Headache: As the cancer cells grows abnormally and creates pressure on other healthy tissues of the brain, resulting in moderate to severe headache.
Hormonal Imbalance: Pituitary gland is present in brain and the effect of tumor on this gland leads to various hormonal deficiency. Pituitary gland is responsible for modulating the secretion of various hormones especially sex hormones.
Vision Problems: If the optic nerves get affected by the tumor, there might be certain vision problems such as double vision or blurred vision. The muscles regulating the movement of the eye may also affected by the tumor.
Difficulty Breathing: Brain also regulates various vital processes including respiration. When the respiratory center of the brain is damaged due to tumor, the patient may have difficulty in breathing.
Speech Problems: Brain metastases also cause troubled speech as it can also affect the speech center. The speech problem due to brain metastases includes abnormal voice and language.
Problem Swallowing: The muscular movements in the swallowing process are also affected by the brain metastases.
Weakness And Numbness: The patient with brain metastases also feels weakness and numbness in the body. If the tumor completely damages any nerve, it may cause paralysis of the related organ.
The life-span of the patient with brain metastases depends upon the various factors such as age of the patient, single or multiple site brain metastases, primary metastasis and location of the tumor. The average lifespan of the patient with single site brain metastases is approximately 13.5 months.
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