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About the Brain Metastases Program

  • The Brain Metastases Program (BMP) at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) is one of the most comprehensive programs in the United States for patients whose cancer has metastasized to the brain. With the most advanced treatment options available — including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapies, and with extensive clinical trial options — our program is in a unique position to treat patients with brain metastases (spread of cancer to the brain).

    What are brain metastases?

    Brain metastases are tumors that have spread to the brain from a primary cancer located elsewhere in the body — most often, from the lung, breast, colon/gastrointestinal tract, skin (melanoma), or kidney, although almost any cancer can spread to the brain.

    A significant percentage of patients with cancer will develop brain metastases. However, the treatment of brain metastases has advanced substantially in recent years. So, with modern treatments, some patients with brain metastases are living longer and with good quality of life.

    Eudocia Lee, MD, MPH, answers patients’ questions about brain tumors and brain metastases 

    Our multidisciplinary approach

    At DF/BWCC, our multidisciplinary Brain Metastases Program team develops an individualized treatment plan for each patient — whether for a first-time diagnosis or for a recurrence of brain metastases since prior treatment. The BMP brings together the expertise of our nationally acclaimed programs in radiation oncology, neurosurgery, medical oncology, neuro-oncology, neuroradiology, and neuropathology. The combination of physicians you see will be tailored to your specific needs.

    In planning and delivering your care, we work closely with your primary oncologist, who has been caring for you and knows your medical history. Your primary oncologist may be from Dana-Farber, or from around the country or around the world.

    Treatment options

    We offer the latest advances in the treatment of metastatic brain tumors. Treatment options may include:

    • Surgery
    • Laser ablation
    • Radiation therapy
    • Systemic therapies including immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and chemotherapy
    • Clinical trials

    Metastases to the nervous system

    In addition to patients with brain metastases, we also treat patients with cancer that has metastasized to other parts of the central nervous system, including the:

    • Inner covering and fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord (leptomeningeal disease)
    • Spinal cord (intramedullary spinal cord metastases)
    • Outer covering of the brain (dural metastases)

    Support for patients and families

    At the BMP, we offer comprehensive care of each patient — mind and body. We offer special support services and follow-up care designed for patients with brain tumors. Our psychosocial oncology, cancer neurology, and pain specialists can help patients manage their symptoms, including neurocognitive deficits, in order to maintain the best possible quality of life during and after treatment.

    Our Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies incorporates complementary therapies into traditional cancer care, helping patients to feel better by reducing the pain, stress, and anxiety caused by cancer and its treatment.

    Patients and their families can also access a wide array of Dana-Farber support services, including social workers, nutritionists, resource specialists, and support groups.

  • Erica Mayer, MD, MPH, and Nancy Lin, MD, on new treatments being studied
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