Do you know how metastasis forms in the brain? Do you know what symptoms can indicate brain metastasis? Do you know that metastasis in the brain can cause death? In this article, you’ll find answers to those questions and a lot more. We have Dr. Sandeep Nayak who is one of the best surgical oncologist in Bangalore. He will explain everything that you simply should know about metastasis.
Table of Contents
- How do the cancer cells located in another part of the body reach the brain?
- How metastasis can impact brain function?
- If metastasis is only one, what symptoms can it produce? Can metastases in the brain cause death?
How Do The Cells Of Cancer Located In Another Part Of The Body Reach The Brain?
Dr. Gurneet Sawhney who is one of the best neurosurgeon in Mumbai will help us to understand this particular scenario. Cancer is an uncontrolled proliferation of cells that have mutated and become cells different than the first ones. This mutation and this alteration can occur in any organ of the body, and a few of them, once they harbor cancer, can cause metastasis within the brain. For this, the cancer cells of the first organ need to enter the blood, through the wall of a vessel, and reach the brain. As per the specialists, during this process, they also face a problem: the brain is a crucial organ for the body, and thus has a mechanism that protects it which is named the blood-brain barrier. It’s a group of defensive structures that make it difficult to access the brain for any foreign element. That’s why it’s harder for metastasis to occur in the brain than in other organs, like the lungs or liver. Once this blood-brain barrier is overcome, the cancer cells that originate in another organ of the body will begin to grow, forming groups of millimeters in size, which will grow to centimeters.
How Metastasis Can Impact Brain Function?
When metastasis gets very big there’s a big issue. In the brain, the neurons are present there and therefore the cancerous cells that are growing in no time don’t fit altogether. That’s why these growing cancer cells begin to push neurons. When pushed, these neurons will begin to release sparks with no order, total chaos. It’s sort of a computer keyboard: if we start to pressing a key continuously, for instance, the “A” key, the screen will fill with letters “a”, which can compose an unreadable and illegible message. But the cancer cells don’t stop growing. They push the neurons so much that it will cause neurons to die. These are deficit neurological symptoms.
If Metastasis Is Only One, What Symptoms Can It Produce?
If just one metastasis appears within the brain, the symptoms that the patient will suffer will depend upon the location of this metastasis. Based on where the cancer cell group is, the symptoms may be:
If the metastasis is in the front of the brain, where neurons that control our behavior and our capacity for judgment and problem-solving live, initially we may become extroverted and impulsive, with inappropriate behavior. Then we’ll be having more and more lethargy, and our reasoning will worsen as our neurons die.
If the metastasis is found in the upper middle part of the brain, where most of the neurons that control our movements and our sensitivity are, we’ll begin to possess uncontrolled tics and tremors. You will feel strange things, as if someone touched the skin when there’s no-one around, or as if our skin burned. Later it will cause paralysis of areas of the body which will become insensitive.
If the metastasis is found within the lower middle part of the brain, where the specialized neurons in hearing and memory are, we’ll begin to listen to things that others don’t hear, and have a weird way of speaking, to gradually lose memory, speech, and hearing.
If the metastasis is within the back of the brain, where the neurons for the vision & the organ that’s responsible for the balance (the cerebellum) are, you will initially have sensations of seeing strange things, like lights and colours, then lose vision.
Can Metastases In The Brain Cause Death?
If there’s tons of tumor inside the skull along with the syndrome of intracranial hypertension that we’ve discussed earlier, the consequence is often much worse. The skull, which is that the set of bones that encloses the brain to guard it, has only a single big outlet: the opening through which the spine exits the cranial cavity. When the brain metastasis begins to push all the neurons of the brain, the brain starts to emerge through that hole. it’s a big problem, because when certain essential brain structures go through the opening, they’re going to cease to function, and therefore the instantaneous death of the person will occur.