Getting through cancer treatment successfully is something to celebrate. To stay in good health, doctors say you need to watch for other symptoms, including vision changes, headaches and problems with balance.
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Many cancer survivors don’t realize that 25% of people who survive some common cancers go on to develop a brain tumor. These brain tumors don’t originate in the brain but are actually cancerous cells from the original tumor that travel to the brain through the bloodstream. When this happens, doctors call these tumors brain metastases.
When this happens, the resulting growth needs early treatment. Dr. Barnett says early detection can help people get the right treatment at the right time to avoid serious complications. This is why you need to be vigilant and pay attention to your symptoms.
If you’ve had cancer and experience these symptoms, be sure to tell your doctor:
Metastatic brain tumors tend to develop gradually, although severe episodes can occur. No matter what, it’s important to tell your doctor immediately so they can evaluate you and treat you early.
For years, doctors believed that brain metastases were uniformly fatal. Treatment could only relieve symptoms. Today, they know that such tumors are treatable, thanks to technological and medical advances. The key is early detection.
We’ve come a long way from the days when the only treatment option available for brain metastases was whole brain radiation. This often failed to control the tumors. Today, aggressive and precisely delivered treatments produce better outcomes with fewer side effects.
Treatment options depend on the location, type and extent of the tumor, and include:
“We want to help patients be aware of all management options, so they don’t blindly agree to a proposed treatment which may not be in their best interest,” Dr. Barnett says. “They always have the right to seek a second opinion.