A metastatic brain tumor is a tumor that originated in another part of the body and migrated to the brain. An MRI is often used to evaluate a tumor that has metastasized (spread from another part of the body). A neurological exam is also performed to evaluate the effects of the tumor. A biopsy may be performed to help evaluate the tumor itself. During a biopsy, a surgeon removes a small piece of the tumor and sends it off to a pathologist (a doctor who evaluates body tissues). The pathologist will help determine what type of tumor it is and if it is cancerous (malignant).
Stereotactic radiosurgery is currently the main treatment. If the tumor can be removed surgically, a craniotomy is typically used to gain access to the tumor. Once located, the surgeon removes as much of it as they safely can without damaging surrounding tissue. Sometimes, a piece of the tumor may need to be left in the brain if it is too risky to remove entirely. Follow up scans are often performed to monitory for possible regrowth.