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Prognosis For Brain Metastases

The treatment strategy for brain metastasis includes chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. Immunotherapy is also used in the management of brain metastases. However, the prognosis for brain metastases is poor.

Prognosis For Brain Metastases

Prognosis For Brain Metastases

Brain metastases is the condition in which the cancer originated in other organ spread to brain. The tumor may metastasize to single site or multiple sites in the brain. Some of the brain metastases are found before the primary tumor is diagnosed. This may be due to brain symptoms experienced by the patient. [1] The prognosis of the brain metastases depends upon the stage of the primary tumor at which the cancer is diagnosed.

Multiple site brain metastases are an important criterion for evaluating the prognosis of the disease as more the sites of brain tumor, lower would be the chance of survival. Also, the reduction in neurological health and severity of brain symptoms also decides the overall fatality of the patient. If the cancer is aggressive and has rapid division, the chances of survival are low as compared to the cancer having slow progression.[2]

As the brain controls all the organs of the body, any effect on the functioning of vital organs reduces the chances of survival. For instances, the patient suffering from brain metastases may have respiratory depression, which if not managed, may lead to fatal consequences. Unfortunately, the brain metastases have poor prognosis. The median survival rate with the single site brain tumor is approximately 13.5 months.[3]

Symptoms Of Brain Metastases

As the tumor from its primary site spreads to the brain, the patient experiences various neurological symptoms. As brain controls all the physiological functions of the body, various other symptoms are also presented by the patient apart from neurological symptoms. Following are the various symptoms associated with brain metastases:

Swallowing Problems. The brain controls the muscular movement of the gastrointestinal tract, if the tumor damages that particular part controlling swallowing, then the patient experiences difficulty swallowing and reduced muscle tone. This may also lead to constipation or diarrhea.

Difficulty Breathing. When the tumor metastasizes to respiratory center of the brain, the breathing becomes difficult. In sever conditions; the patient may develop respiratory depression.

Speech Problems. Brain also controls the speech center and helps commanding language and speech tone. When this part of brain is affected, the patient is unable to speak properly.

Vision Disturbances. Brain controls vision and the muscles of the eye as well. When the optic nerve is damaged by the tumor, there might be vision loss. When the muscles of the eye lose tone, the patient experiences blurred or double vision.

Numbness And Weakness. As the muscles of the body are controlled by the nervous system, any neuropathy weakens the whole muscular system. Further abnormality in the nerve causes numbness and nerve pain.

Cognitive Decline. The level of cognitive decline depends upon the location and size of the tumor. If the neurological damage is high, the patient develops severe cognitive dysfunction. The symptoms of cognitive dysfunction include poor concentration, low memory, and improper coordination during walking or running and social isolation.

Hormonal Imbalance. Pituitary gland is present in the brain which regulates the secretion of other hormones especially sex hormones. Any damage in this gland may lead to delay or complete absence of puberty and infertility.[4]

Seizures. Seizures occurs when there is an abnormal electrical impulse inside the brain. Brain tumor may cause the generation of these impulses.[5]

Nausea And Vomiting. Patients suffering from brain metastases have dizziness. The primary symptoms include nausea and vomiting.

Headache. Tumor cells from the other organs spread to the brain and starts dividing. This will lead to the mass of cells called tumor that exerts force on the healthy tissues leading to pain. Further, headache is also experienced by the patient due to inflammation and edema inside the brain.[6]


Brain metastases are the condition indicating that the primary cancer may have been spread to other parts of the body. Since it involves the brain, the treatment should not be aggressive so that it may damage the healthy brain cells. This makes the treatment difficult. The prognosis is poor, and the mean survival rate is approximately 13.5 months.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 30, 2022

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