Washington: Elderly survivors of breast cancer, lung cancer, and melanoma face the risk of brain metastasis later in life, claim researchers.
Brain metastasis is cancer that spread to the brain from other body parts and therefore considered a secondary brain tumour.
“As cancer treatments have gotten better and more people are surviving a primary cancer diagnosis, it’s important to study secondary cancers, including metastasis to the brain. With an ageing U.S. population, the number of people with brain metastasis is increasing, although sometimes that metastasis does not occur until many years after the initial cancer diagnosis,” co-author of the study Barnholtz-Sloan wrote in the study published in the Journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.
“As people are living longer after an initial cancer diagnosis, their ‘time at risk’ for metastasis is going up. In addition, the majority of primary cancer diagnoses have no standard of care for brain metastasis screening,” co-author Ascha added.
The researchers linked data on brain metastases to investigate rates of brain metastasis in elderly patients.
Then they calculated the incidence proportion, the ratio of brain metastases counts to the total number of cases, for each primary cancer.
The highest rates of metastasis were in small-cell and non-small-cell lung carcinoma, compared with adenocarcinoma, a more common type of lung cancer.
Barnholtz-Sloan and Ascha said that the results of the study could help clinicians better understand patients’ risk for brain metastasis and could potentially influence screening and surveillance practices.
“Brain metastases are detected with MRI, which is very expensive. An improved understanding of who is likely to develop a brain metastasis could help determine who should get an MRI,” Barnholtz-Sloan said.
Ascha added that more targeted surveillance could potentially help physicians detect metastases at early stages. If we can identify brain metastases earlier in their progression, that could allow for earlier treatment and improved outcomes for these patients.