Metastatic brains tumors (also called secondary brain tumors) are the most common form of brain tumors. They arise from cancer cells that travel to the brain from another part of the body. Breast, lung, skin (melanoma), colon and kidney cancers most often spread (metastasize) to the brain.
Most often, patients know they have cancer in the primary location. The brain metastasis is often found during a routine CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Sometimes it’s found after the brain tumor causes neurological symptoms. Less than 10 percent of metastatic brain tumors are diagnosed before the primary cancer. When that happens, further tests are done to determine where the cancer originated.
Often metastatic brain tumors are found before they cause symptoms. Sometimes, patients may experience symptoms that prompt investigation, such as:
Specific symptoms depend on the location of the tumor in the brain.
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