Studying New Ways to Treat Brain Metastases

December 13, 2016 at 11:35 pm Leave a comment

brainWhen breast cancer spreads beyond the breast and lymph nodes under the arm to other parts of the body, it is considered stage IV, or metastatic. Not all cancers are equally likely to spread to the same organs. Breast cancer typically spreads to the lungs, liver, bone, and brain.


Studies suggest between 15 and 30 percent of metastatic breast cancer patients will develop brain metastases. But the risk of developing brain metastases is not the same for everyone. Patients with triple-negative breast cancer and HER2-positive breast cancer are more likely to be diagnosed with brain metastases than those with other types of breast tumors.


Systemic treatments–drugs that move throughout the body–that can kill tumor cells in, say, the lung or liver, are not typically able to kill tumor cells in the brain. That’s because before it can get to the cancer cells, the drug must cross the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier plays an important role in daily life, by keeping substances that could damage the brain out. But its tight borders have typically prohibited most cancer treatments from getting in.¬†Researchers are trying to develop new drugs and identify existing drugs that can cross the blood-brain barrier.

Entry filed under: Brain metastases, Breast Cancer Treatment, Metastatic breast cancer. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Q & A with Dr. Michelle Melisko, MD From the Director: A Successful Collaboration to Support People Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer

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