The term “Metastasis” is used to describe the stage of cancer in which the cancer cells start influencing the other body organs. When these cancerous cells reach and affect the brain, it is called Lung Cancer with Brain Metastases. The primary reason behind the brain metastases is the lack of awareness and treatment at the initial stage.

Over the period, lung cancer develops into a secondary tumor (Metastases) and impacts the normal processing of body organs. According to stats, around 30-40% of the Lung Cancer patients get diagnosed with brain Metastases at some moment of time during the ailment. Apart from Brain, many other body organs are also attacked by cancer cells like the respiratory system, liver,  nervous system, bones, adrenal gland, and mouth.

Causes Behind Brain Metastases by Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer Brain metastases

There are two ways in which the brain can be infected through the lung cancer cells:

  • Lymph Vessels: The cancer cells quickly affect the lymph vessels, but the relative effecting of nearby organs through Lymph Vessels is slow. The spreading of cancer cells through Lymph Vessels is a long-term process.
  • Blood Vessels: It is a hard task for the cancer cells to enter the blood vessels. However, once it enters the blood vessels, the spreading of cancer cells becomes easy and infect the other organs in a quick succession of time.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer with Brain Metastases

Both small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer can lead to Brain Metastases, but the influencing rate of small cell lung cancer is faster as compared to non-small cell lung cancer.  Also, the symptoms which are experienced at the time of Brain Metastases depends on the type of Lung Cancer. The significant symptoms of lung cancer with brain Metastases are:

  • Memory Loss
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulting to focus/ concentrate
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Loss of coordination and balancing
  • Vision Problem – Loss of vision or double vision
  • Seizures
  • Personality Changes
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Peripheral weakness
  • Problem in speaking

Note that the impact of these symptoms again depends on the body type, so, if you’re experiencing any symptoms, at any rate, consult with the doctor immediately.

Also Read: Early Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Diagnosis of Brain Metastases

There are multiple numbers of tests which the doctors can conduct to detect or to check whether you have brain Metastases or not. Some of the primary and mainly done Diagnostic test for Brain Metastases are:

  • CT Scan: Computed Tomography uses the x-rays to get images of a tumour.
  • MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging uses the magnetic waves to get images of a tumour. MRI is considered as better imaging test because of its accuracy.
  • PET Scan: Positron Emission Tomography is used to distinguish between the normal cell and cancer cell.  
  • Biopsy: In Biopsy, a sample tissue cell is taken for evaluation.  

Treatment of Lung Cancer with Brain Metastases

The type of Brain Metastases treatment depends upon a number of factors like If the Metastases is spread over the wide area, then the treatment will be done to control the symptoms to reduce pain, or If the Metastases is just at the initial phase, then the treatment will be done to eliminate the metastases. The various procedures which can be applied on the lung cancer with Brain Metastases patients are:

Chemotherapy: This treatment is quite ineffective to cure brain Metastases but will be helpful for lungs. The blood-brain barrier (a network of capillaries) is available in the brain which keeps the toxins like chemo drugs out of the body. So, no chemo drugs will be helpful in treating a brain tumour, but chemotherapy drugs can be used to kill the cancerous cells of lungs which will help disconnect the influence of cells from lungs to brain.

Immunotherapy: At the present, there are three drugs which have proved useful in reducing Brain Metastases, but nothing is so sure in this case as first immunotherapy drug lung cancer was introduced and approved in 2015.

Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapies are for EGFR mutations, ROS1 rearrangements, and ALK rearrangements in which drugs penetrate through the blood-brain barrier to kill the brain Metastases. Still, they are more effective at the initial stage, i.e. on lungs.

Surgery: The possibility of using surgery as a treatment for brain Metastases is minimum. This method of treatment is reliable when there are only one or two tumours.

Whole Brain Radiotherapy: Those patients who are having more than three tumour section, must go for Whole Brain Radiotherapy. This treatment is not to cure a tumour, this is used for reducing/ minimising the symptoms. Doctors suggest this treatment when cancer reaches its last stage. The significant side effects experienced after whole brain radiotherapy are memory loss, fatigue, skin rashes etc.

Stereotactic Radiotherapy: When you get diagnosed with less than three tumour sites, then go for Stereotactic Radiotherapy. In this kind of treatment, a high dose of radiation is focused at a particular site, which makes this method much more reliable then Whole Body Radiotherapy. The side effects experienced in Stereotactic Radiotherapy are comparatively less severe than Whole Brain Radiotherapy.

Lung Cancer with Brain Metastases Life Expectancy

An average life expectancy of a person suffering from Brain Metastases is 8 to 12 months, and when only treatable oligometastases is diagnosed in patients, he/ she may survive for 2 to 3 years.

So, once you experience any of the above symptoms or you are prone to the causes of lung cancer, then immediately for a check-up.

Also Read: Lung cancer survival rate

If You find any of these symptoms contact the specialist like Dr. Rishi Sharma ASAP!


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