Brain Metastases

Kevin J. Klos, Brian Patrick O'Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Background: Systemic cancer is the second most common cause of death for adults in the United States. Twenty percent of these patients develop neurologic symptoms sometime during their illness. An apparent increase in the incidence of both systemic cancers and resulting brain metastases are posing an increasing challenge to health care providers. Neurologic complications lead to significant morbidity and mortality in these patients. Therefore, it is important to understand the current concepts of diagnosis and treatment of patients with brain metastases. Review Summary: This review summarizes the epidemiology, clinical features, pathophysiology, and diagnostic evaluation of brain metastases. The section on current treatments is presented from the perspective of the three most common primary tumor locations along with the treatment approach to other metastatic tumors. This review includes a thorough evaluation of the literature, highlights controversies over treatment options, and provides insight into novel approaches currently under investigation. Clinical studies needed for further study are also discussed. Conclusions: A clearer understanding of the pathophysiology of metastatic tumors and advances in diagnostic technology have paved the road to a better approach to treatment of brain metastases. Although no curative treatments are available to date, significant improvement in a patient's quality of life and life expectancy can be achieved with the available therapy. A better understanding of different primary cancers leading to brain metastases leads to a more effective treatment. More studies are needed to critically analyze the clear benefit of these treatment options in selected patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-46
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


  • Brain metastases
  • Cancer
  • Radiation therapy
  • Seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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