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3 Different Treatments for Brain Metastasis

3 Different Treatments for Brain Metastasis

Metastatic cancer is the medical term for cancer that has spread from its original site to other body areas or distant organs. A brain metastasis develops when a few cancer cells break away from a primary tumor, travel through the bloodstream, deposit in the brain — often in the cerebral hemispheres or to the cerebellum — and form a mass.

A metastatic brain tumor may appear many years after the primary cancer that caused it, or it may metastasize so quickly that it’s discovered before the primary cancer has been identified. When you’re diagnosed with brain metastasis, the right treatment approach can alleviate your symptoms, control tumor growth, and extend your lifespan.

Here, fellowship-trained neurosurgical oncologist Jose Valerio, MD, provides an overview of effective management approaches for metastatic brain cancer, and explores three advanced treatment options that may be able to give you the best shot at restraining the disease.

Brain metastasis requires an individualized care approach

In the past, brain metastases were largely regarded as incurable. Luckily, ongoing advances in metastatic brain tumor treatment have shifted that narrative. Today, with prompt, aggressive therapy, it’s often possible to cure patients with one (or only a few) brain metastases. 

Even for patients with many metastatic brain tumor lesions, the right treatment approach can often provide several months, and sometimes years, of tumor control, symptom remission, and a better quality of life. 

Your treatment plan for brain metastases may include some combination of the following:

The right treatment approach for you is determined by the type, size, number and location of your brain metastases, as well as any tumor-related symptoms you’re experiencing, your overall health, and your personal preferences.

Three advanced treatment options for metastatic brain cancer

It can be scary to find out you have a metastatic brain tumor, but it’s important to know that most brain metastases are treatable, and many can be well-controlled with the right approach. Like most malignancies, the quicker you begin treatment, the better your chances are of curing or controlling the disease. 

In many cases, surgery and/or radiation therapy can slow, stop, or control cancer growth and substantially improve — or entirely get rid of — tumor-related symptoms. Let’s take a closer look at these advanced treatment options for metastatic brain cancer:

1. Craniotomy 

Surgery aims to provide fast relief of “mass effect,” or pressure inside the skull caused by a growing metastatic tumor and swelling of the brain. During a craniotomy, Dr. Valerio opens and removes a piece of your skull to access the area of your brain where the tumor is growing. 

After carefully removing as much of the malignancy as possible without negatively affecting neurological function, he fits the skull piece and overlying soft tissues back in place and closes the incision in your skin.

2. Parafascicular surgery

If your metastatic tumor is situated deep inside your brain, Dr. Valerio may recommend using a minimally invasive treatment approach called parafascicular surgery to remove it. 

Minimally invasive parafascicular surgery (MIPS) is a cutting-edge technique that combines live, high-resolution imaging, computerized brain navigation systems, and specialized retraction tools to help Dr. Valerio gain access to the tumor with minimal disruption to healthy brain tissues. 

With the MIPS approach, Dr. Valerio moves along the brain’s natural folds and fibers, reaching and removing deep tumors safely and without inflicting any collateral damage.

3. Stereotactic radiosurgery

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), also known as the gamma knife procedure, isn’t actually surgery at all. Instead, it’s a highly targeted form of radiation therapy that’s adjusted to the specific shape of the metastatic tumor. The goal of SRS is to deliver radiation energy to precise, measured targets in the brain, thereby minimizing the risk of damage to healthy adjacent areas.

SRS uses multiple radiation beams to treat metastatic brain cancer. While each beam isn’t very powerful on its own, the point where all the beams converge — at the tumor — receives a dose of radiation that’s large enough to kill the targeted cancer cells. SRS is completed in one session, and Dr. Valerio can treat multiple tumors at once. 

Metastatic brain tumors are often treatable and controllable

If you’ve been diagnosed with metastatic brain cancer, time is of the essence. Understanding your options and getting started on the right treatment plan can give you the best chance at symptom relief, disease control, and long-term survival. 

From brain metastasis diagnosis and treatment planning to surgical removal and continuing follow-up care, you’re in good hands with Dr. Valerio. To learn more, contact the practice of Jose Valerio, MD, to book an appointment. He has offices in South Miami, Hialeah, and Weston, Florida.

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