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How Does Cancer Spread to the Brain?

Updated at: Aug 23, 2012
Written by: Arka Roy ChowdhuryPublished at: Aug 23, 2012
How Does Cancer Spread to the Brain?

Brain tumor can be one of the most life- threatening diseases that one may come across. Know more about how primary cancer cell can spread to cause a secondary brain tumor.

Cancer is still one of the most deadly diseases that is causing a huge amount of deaths the world over. One of the most dangerous facts about cancer is its ability to spread all the various parts of the body. When a cancer is malignant that is when it has the ability to replace healthy cells with the cancerous cells. Then these cells lose their ability to regulate its growth and become dangerous tumors. When it hits the brain then you hear the term brain tumor and this is called metastases. The common symptoms of the brain metastasis are headaches, seizures, vertigos, feeling or being sick, confusion and listlessness.


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Ways of Spreading


There are many ways through which cancer cells can spread; however for the brain there can be two ways, lymph and blood stream. Lymph is a common way for the cancer cells to spread from the primary site to the brain. Once the cancer has become malignant the cells break off from the original tumor and enter the lymph stream. There are various ducts in the lymphatic system and the cancer cells use these ducts to reach out to the other organs in the body like the brain. Then once it gets implanted in the brain it begins to replace the healthy cells that surrounds it with cancer cells. This in turn then becomes a secondary tumor.


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The second way in which the cancer cells can travel to the brain and become a secondary tumor is through the blood stream. Cancer cells always need blood supply in order to stay alive and this is why they have a direct access to the blood stream of a human body. Like the lymph here too the cancer breaks off from its primary site and then travel through the blood circulatory system to implant itself in the brain. Then after reaching the brain it creates destruction by replacing the healthy cells with cancerous ones. They grow out of control and become a dangerous tumor.


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Brain tumors are inherently very dangerous because it is life threatening. The tumors can be cancerous or non cancerous, we are dealing with the cancerous type which is life defeating in nature. There are a few ways in which this can be treated and they are radiotherapy, surgery and chemotherapy. While radiotherapy is the most common treatment for a secondary brain tumor the other two depends on a lot of other factors.




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