Researchers Make Progress Unlocking Breast Brain Metastasis

Thursday, April 12, 2018
By Julie Poucher Harbin, Writer, DCI
brain tumor graphic

Each year nearly 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with metastatic cancer that has spread to the brain. The number is projected to rise. As a result of a larger aging population, combined with improvements in cancer screening and care, up to 30 percent of patients with solid tumor cancers can expect their cancer to return, traveling to other parts of the body, including the brain.

Brain metastasis is often associated with cognitive decline, seizures, cranial neuropathies and poor prognosis.

“Not only is it very devastating and hard to treat, but when you really look at the patients, brain metastasis is worse than any other metastasis because patients can lose memory, the ability to express themselves and motor function,” said Ann Marie Pendergast, PhD, a veteran cancer researcher who began her career at Duke 20-plus years ago researching chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) then moved to solid tumor research over the past decade.

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death for women worldwide, and metastases, including brain metastases, account for the vast majority of deaths from breast cancer. The types of cancer most likely to cause brain metastases are lung, breast, colon, kidney and melanoma.

Read entire article on the Duke Cancer Institute Blog

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