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Brain Metastasis

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Brain metastasis is cancer that has spread within your brain or spreads from your body to your brain. Some examples are lung, breast, skin, and colon cancer.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Call button:

You may feel dizzy or sleepy during treatment. Prevent falls by using the call button when you get out of bed or if you need help. The call button should always be close enough for you to reach it.

Tests:

  • A neurologic exam can show healthcare providers how your brain is working. Other names for this test include neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. Healthcare providers will check how your pupils react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.
  • A CT or MRI may show the size and location of any tumors. You may be given contrast liquid to help tumors show up better on the scan. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A PET scan uses a substance called a tracer to help show injuries or diseases inside the brain, such as tumors. The tracer is given through an IV or breathed in as a gas.

Treatment:

  • Steroid medicine helps reduce swelling in the head and body.
  • Anticonvulsant medicine helps decrease or stop seizures.
  • Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.
  • Whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT) is used to help treat brain tumors and to prevent new tumors from forming. WBRT can help you maintain your normal daily activities during treatment.
  • Surgery may be used if you have a single tumor. During surgery such as craniotomy, healthcare providers open your skull and remove the tumor. Surgery can quickly relieve vision loss or other problems if a tumor is affecting an area of the brain that controls vision, hearing, or movement.
  • Radiosurgery targets cancer cells without harming healthy brain tissue. You may need radiosurgery if you have more than one tumor or if you cannot have open surgery, such as craniotomy.

RISKS:

You may lose your hair when WBRT begins. Your skin may redden and feel dry and tender. Painful mouth sores can make it hard to eat. You may also have nausea and vomiting, headaches, and sleepiness. Over time, WBRT can cause swelling inside the brain. You may start to forget things, feel very tired, and have problems seeing and hearing. Surgery and radiosurgery can increase your risk of infection and bleeding inside the brain, which may be life-threatening. Cancer and its treatment also increase your risk for blood clots. A blood clot in your leg can break loose and travel to your lungs. This can be life-threatening.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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