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Metastatic Brain Tumours

Tumour Group:
Metastatic Brain Tumours are considered a Tumour Group
WHO Grade:
People are surviving other cancers longer than ever before. As a result, it is likely that the incidence of metastatic brain tumours will rise in the years to come. Currently, brain metastases occur in 20-40% of people with cancer.
Typical Age Range:
Most common among middle-aged and elderly men and women.

Tumour Characteristics

Metastatic brain tumours, also called lesions or brain metastases, are caused by cancer that has spread from another part of the body.

  • Most brain metastases are located in the cerebrum, but can also develop in the cerebellum or brainstem
  • The primary cancer is usually in the lung, breast, colon, kidney or skin (melanoma), but can originate from any cancer in any part of the body

Tumours that spread to the brain may be single (solitary metastasis) or multiple in number.


Common symptoms include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Symptoms depend on the size and location of the tumour.
  • The spread of a tumour to the brain may produce symptoms before the primary tumour is diagnosed.

Treatment/Standard of Care

Surgery, radiation, radiosurgery and supportive care are the main treatment options. For patients with a limited number of tumours then surgery and/or radiosurgery may be delivered followed by whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT). In cases of multiple lesions, WBRT alone may be given. Selected chemotherapy agents have been shown to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and may be used as first-line therapy.


A prognosis is an estimate of the likely progress of a disease after a diagnosis, based on an average patient group. Since every person is different, please take time to talk with your health care team about how this information applies to you.

By clicking on 'expand', a statistic on the prognosis for Metastatic Brain Tumours will be shown.