Secondary (Metastatic) Brain Tumor

Secondary (Metastatic) Brain Tumor

A secondary or metastatic brain tumor is a cancer that started in another part of the body (as a primary cancer) and then spread to the brain.

Many tumor or cancer types can spread to the brain. The most common are:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Certain sarcomas
  • Germ cell tumors
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Melanoma

Some types of cancer, such as colon and prostate cancers rarely spread to the brain. Growing brain tumors can place pressure on nearby parts of the brain. Brain swelling due to these tumors leads to increased pressure within the skull.

Brain tumors that spread are classified based on the location of the tumor in the brain, the type of tissue involved, the original location of the tumor and other factors. In rare instances, tumors can spread from an unknown location to the brain; this is called cancer of unknown primary (CUP) origin.

Metastatic brain tumors occur in about one-fourth (25%) of all cancers that spread through the body. They are much more common than primary brain tumors (tumors that start in the brain).

Secondary Brain Tumor Symptoms

Secondary brain tumors symptoms vary, but the most commonly seen symptoms are those caused by increased pressure in the brain from tumor growth. Symptoms of secondary brain tumors may also include:

  • Decreased coordination (clumsiness, falls, etc.)
  • Fever
  • General ill feeling or lethargy
  • Headache (new or more severe than usual)
  • Memory loss, poor judgment, difficulty solving problems
  • Numbness, tingling, pain, and other changes in sensation
  • Personality changes
  • Rapid emotional changes or strange behaviors
  • Seizures that are new
  • Speech difficulties
  • Vision changes (double vision, decreased vision)
  • Vomiting (with or without nausea)
  • Weakness of a body area

Getting Diagnosed

Our team of specialists provides the most up-to-date evaluations using the latest diagnostic and imaging technology.

We work very closely with the departments of Neurosurgery, Interventional Neuroradiology, Neurology and Radiation Oncology, as well as the Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Center and Skull Base Center to ensure an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment for the best outcome.


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The Neuroscience Institute

We are dedicated to the world-class diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases and disorders.