They are the most frequent brain tumors in adults (50%). About 10-15% of tumors metastasize in the brain. They can originate from the lung (44%), breast (10%), kidney (7%), gastrointestinal tract (6%), and melanoma (3%). The primary tumor is not found at a rate of 30%. The average survival of patients is 26-32 weeks, so treatment is mainly palliative. In some cases, however, adequate treatment of the primary tumor and surgical removal of the brain metastasis can provide long-term survival.
Metastases to the spine and spinal cord can also occur (in 10% of cancer patients). In 80% of cases they come from the lung, breast, prostate, gastrointestinal tract, melanoma, and lymphoma. Treating these does not improve patients’ survival, but it deals with the pain and improves quality of life. Spinal cord decompression is often required to prevent neurological disability, and sometimes spinal fusion can stabilize the spine, improving symptoms, especially pain.