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Breast Cancer Spreading to the Brain: 9 Symptoms and Treatments

Breast Cancer Spreading to the Brain: 9 Symptoms and Treatments

Breast most cancers all the time begins in cells inside the breast. These most cancers cells generally unfold to different areas in the physique in a course of often called metastasis, the hallmark of stage 4 breast most cancers. Breast most cancers cells are extra possible to unfold to sure elements of the physique. One frequent location for metastases (tumors in a distant location) is the mind.

Between 7 p.c and 24 p.c of individuals with metastatic breast most cancers have most cancers cells of their mind. Being recognized with breast most cancers under the age of 35 is a threat issue for mind metastases. Additionally, these with extra aggressive subtypes of breast most cancers, together with HER2-positive or triple-negative breast most cancers, have the next threat.

If you might be dwelling with breast most cancers, it’s essential to acknowledge potential signs of metastatic illness and inform your well being care staff about any considerations. Your oncologist may also help you perceive your threat and diagnose or rule out metastasis. If you develop mind metastases, you’ll additionally want to perceive which remedy choices can be found and how they may also help.

1. Headaches

Headaches are the commonest breast most cancers mind metastasis symptom, affecting about 35 percent of individuals with the situation. They can develop if tumors in the mind trigger additional stress to construct up inside your head.

If your headache was brought on by mind metastasis, your head could damage extra for those who lie down, bend over, or squeeze as you’re going to the toilet. Additionally, over-the-counter painkillers usually aren’t efficient in relieving these complications.

2. Nausea or Vomiting

About 1 out of 4 folks with breast most cancers that has unfold to the mind expertise nausea or vomiting. However, these signs will also be brought on by most cancers remedies like chemotherapy. If you are feeling nauseous whereas going by remedy, your medicines could also be the trigger. Your oncologist or oncology nurse may also help you establish the reason for your nausea and discover methods to relieve it.

3. Weakness on One Side of Your Body

About 22 p.c of individuals with mind metastases discover that half of their physique — both the left or proper aspect — feels unusually weak. This symptom, additionally referred to as hemiparesis, can also trigger numbness or lead to a pins-and-needles sensation often called peripheral neuropathy.

4. Changes in Your Senses

About 13 p.c of individuals with mind metastases expertise imaginative and prescient modifications, together with blurry imaginative and prescient, double imaginative and prescient, or seeing flashes of sunshine. Brain metastases also can trigger your speech to grow to be slurred or troublesome to perceive. Additionally, your sense of contact could seem totally different — you could expertise modifications in the means you expertise sizzling, chilly, or sharp sensations.

Other physique processes can also be modified by mind metastasis. You could really feel off-balance or uncoordinated, which might trigger you to stumble upon issues, drop gadgets, and even get into minor automobile accidents.

5. Mood Swings

If you are feeling your temper is altering or for those who don’t really feel the identical feelings you usually do, it may very well be an indication of mind tumors. Some folks with this symptom really feel unusually downcast or withdrawn.

However, temper swings will also be brought on by different breast cancer-related elements. It’s quite common to really feel burdened, anxious, or depressed after a breast most cancers analysis, and these psychological well being elements also can lead to temper modifications. Additionally, hormone remedy may cause temper swings.

6. Thinking Problems

Brain metastases could make it harder to think clearly. You could have reminiscence issues, really feel confused, discover it arduous to focus, or really feel like you will have mind fog. However, be aware that chemotherapy and different breast most cancers remedies may cause these identical cognitive modifications.

7. Personality Changes

If you will have superior breast most cancers that has unfold to the mind, the folks round you could discover that you just appear totally different. You could begin doing belongings you’ve by no means completed earlier than, behaving unusually, or partaking in additional dangerous habits.

8. Seizures

About 1 out of 3 individuals who expertise breast most cancers spreading to the mind develop seizures.

Seizures may cause numerous signs, resembling numbness or tingling, hassle talking, issue shifting usually, uncontrollable shaking, smelling or feeling issues that others can’t, or modifications in consciousness.

9. Stroke

Strokes happen when blood can’t attain a part of your mind tissue. This is a severe situation that requires quick medical consideration. Strokes are uncommon however can happen if breast most cancers causes mind tumors to have an effect on blood move in the mind.

Stroke signs come on all of a sudden. They embody:

  • Numbness on one aspect of your physique or one aspect of your face
  • Vision modifications
  • Problems with steadiness or dizziness
  • A sense which you could’t stroll usually
  • Confusion or mind fog
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding different folks
  • Severe headache

Symptoms of stroke in ladies also can embody different modifications. Women are extra possible to really feel weak throughout their physique quite than in only one half of the physique. They can also really feel unusually drained or nauseous.

If you suppose there’s a probability you can be experiencing a stroke, search emergency medical care instantly.

Treatment of Brain Metastases

If your physician thinks there’s a probability you will have mind metastases primarily based in your signs, they could search for further indicators utilizing assessments like:

  • A neurological examination (assessments to test your steadiness, power, listening to, imaginative and prescient, or different processes managed by the mind)
  • Imaging assessments resembling a CT scan or MRI
  • A biopsy (removing of a small piece of mind tissue to decide whether or not it comprises cancerous cells)

Breast most cancers metastases in the mind will be difficult to deal with. This is as a result of it’s troublesome for a lot of medication to journey throughout the blood-brain barrier, layers of cells that separate the mind from the remainder of the physique. For this motive, you might be extra possible to have a poor outlook when you’ve got mind metastases. However, therapies are always enhancing, and there are a number of remedy choices that may assist assault most cancers cells in your mind.


Surgery could also be helpful when you’ve got between one and three tumors in your mind. This remedy may also help enhance signs instantly. However, surgical procedure is probably not an choice for some people who find themselves ill, have metastases in areas of the mind which might be troublesome or harmful to take away, or have many mind metastases.

Radiation Therapy

Different forms of radiation remedy can also assist. During this remedy, high-energy beams or particles harm and destroy most cancers cells.

Whole-Brain Radiation Therapy

One sort of radiation remedy, whole-brain radiation remedy (WBRT), entails concentrating on your complete mind with radiation. This sort of radiation may also help shrink tumors and eliminate small clumps of most cancers cells that will later flip into tumors. It is most helpful when you’ve got many mind metastases. Although this remedy may also help stop breast most cancers from coming again after being handled, some research have discovered that WBRT doesn’t assist folks dwell longer and can lead to unwanted side effects that may have giant impacts in your high quality of life.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is another choice. Despite the title, this process isn’t conventional surgical procedure — it doesn’t contain slicing into your mind tissue. Instead, SRS is a method that enables docs to very exactly goal mind metastases with excessive doses of radiation whereas leaving your wholesome mind tissue alone, which can lead to fewer unwanted side effects. Your physician could advocate SRS when you’ve got only a few mind metastases that may’t be handled with surgical procedure. However, it is probably not an aggressive sufficient remedy to management most cancers cells rising in the mind when you’ve got a number of metastases.

Systemic Treatments

Systemic therapies are medicines which might be carried by your blood to all elements of your physique. They are sometimes used to deal with metastatic most cancers.

A typical type of systemic remedy is chemotherapy. Not all chemotherapy medication can cross the blood-brain barrier, however some may also help kill most cancers cells in the mind. If you might be presently present process (or have beforehand undergone) chemotherapy and it has labored effectively, your oncologist could advocate persevering with to use the identical routine. However, in case your most cancers can be getting worse in different elements of your physique at the identical time most cancers spreads to your mind, you could want to attempt a special sort of chemotherapy.

When treating mind metastases, chemotherapy is commonly mixed with different systemic therapies relying on which sort of breast most cancers you will have:

  • Estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) or progesterone-positive (PR-positive) metastatic breast most cancers (most cancers that comprises hormone receptor proteins) is commonly handled with hormone remedy resembling tamoxifen (Soltamox) or anastrozole (Arimidex).
  • When HER2-positive breast most cancers (most cancers that comprises excessive ranges of the HER2 protein) metastasizes to the mind, docs could advocate medication or mixtures of medicine that embody a focused remedy (resembling trastuzumab, offered as Herceptin) and tucatinib (Tukysa) — and chemotherapy (resembling capecitabine, offered as Xeloda).

Experts have additionally not too long ago developed new remedy choices, resembling immunotherapy, to assist with mind metastases. These medicines assist your immune system discover most cancers cells and stop them from rising or spreading.

Treatments To Help With Symptoms

Certain signs of breast most cancers metastasis to the mind could require particular remedies. For instance, steroids may also help deal with swelling and stress in the mind. Additionally, medicines like phenytoin (Dilantin), levetiracetam (Keppra), and valproate (Depakote) may also help calm or stop seizures and enhance your high quality of life.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyBCTeam is the social community for folks with breast most cancers and their family members. On MyBCTeam, greater than 60,000 members come collectively to ask questions, give recommendation, and share their tales with others who perceive life with breast most cancers.

Have you skilled mind most cancers metastasis? What have your signs been? Share your experiences in the feedback under, or begin a dialog by posting in your Activities web page.


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