When Cancer Spreads to the Brain – Symptoms and Progression
Cancer spreading from its initial infection site and infecting other parts of the body is known as metastasizing. There is a key difference between a cancer metastasizing and developing another form of cancer. Metastases are cells of the original cancer. If you had lung cancer and cancer spreads to the brain, you would have lung cancer cells in the brain and not brain cancer cells. If your cancer spread to your brain, you can expect to see new symptoms which you did not experience before. Once the brain metastases life expectancy is not very high. The median life expectancy is generally 3-6 months with treatment.
The most common types of cancer that will metastases to the brain are lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer, and melanoma. Brain metastases symptoms include nausea, seizures, and overall weakness. You may also experience memory problems, episodes of confusion, and changes in personality. Once cancer has spread to the brain you are likely to experience problems with balance, speech, and swallowing. If you know that you already have cancer but did not experience these symptoms before, it is important that you get tested to see if the cancer spread to the brain.
Your brain metastases life expectancy can be increased through medical treatments as advised by your oncologist. By treating the tumors, your life expectancy can more than double. The treatment course you receive will depend on how much cancer spread to the brain and what areas were affected. The most commonly affected regions in the brain are the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the brainstem. In all cases, you can expect to suffer from recurring headaches due to swelling caused by the growing tumor.
As the cancer spreads to the brain, you are likely to experience increased problem with your motor skills and bodily functions. Many brain metastases patients suffer from difficulty in walking, muscle weakness and decreased coordination. This is the result of neurological problems which arise due to swelling. As the brain is put under more and more pressure, more problems will arise. That’s why it is important that you speak to your oncologist and find treatments which will alleviate the intracranial pressure within your skull.