You’ve been through a long battle with cancer before it moved (metastasized) to your brain. Or you had a seizure and found out you have a cancer that spread to the brain. You may have symptoms like headaches, seizures, memory issues, weakness, and vision problems.
You have lots of questions: what treatments are there? Who should I see for my cancer?
Treating brain metastases is different from treating other types of cancer. For example, many chemotherapy drugs don't work for brain cancer. That's because they can't cross the blood-brain barrier. This filter stops medicines from reaching your brain.
At UVA Health's brain, we have experts experienced in treating brain metastases. Here you’ll find high-quality, compassionate care and the latest treatment options.
Our program is part of UVA Cancer Center, Virginia’s first National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Brain Metastases Care at UVA Health
Determining the right treatment for someone with brain metastases can be very difficult. It can include decisions about extending life and making sure you have good quality of life. We understand these decisions are very personal. We want to help you find the right treatment for you.
Some treatments can help you live longer, but won’t help you have good quality of life during that extra time. And some treatments, like whole-brain radiation therapy, relieve symptoms. But then the treatment causes neurological problems.
Our doctors have studied brain metastases treatments for decades. They’ve published treatment guidelines now used by other centers across the country.
Brain metastases can’t be cured. But at UVA Health, we'll help you choose treatments that give you the most time with the highest quality of life.
A Team of Brain Metastases Experts
Your team will include brain cancer specialists and cancer doctors. Our specialists also include neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, and neuropsychologists. Our palliative care providers help with pain relief. And we have social workers and chaplains to support you.
Our team also includes a nurse navigator. This gives you 1 point person to ask when you have questions for the team. They will coordinate your care among all our specialists.
Fast, One-Stop Access to Care
When we get your referral, our goal is to see you within 1 week. We’ll coordinate all the specialists you need to see. That way, you won't have to make separate appointments with these experts on your own. We’ll address all your concerns, including treatment, pain control, and support.
Within days after your first appointment, our whole team meets to talk about your case. You'll benefit from each team member's unique expertise. We'll make sure you get every treatment and support service that can help you.
Working Together With You & Your Caregivers
We believe in working together with you to decide the best treatment. We’ll start by getting to know you and your caregivers. We'll talk about your individual needs and goals so we can help you determine the best treatment.
Advanced Brain Metastases Treatments
We offer fast access to the latest tools and technologies to find and treat brain metastases. Surgery to remove brain tumors may help relieve symptoms. We also offer advanced nonsurgical options, like Gamma Knife radiosurgery and targeted medications. Additionally, our team includes experts in treating neurological disorders caused by brain metastases.
We offer different types of medications, including:
- Targeted therapies
- Medicines for seizures and other symptoms
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Depending on the number and size of your tumors, we may be able to use Gamma Knife. This targeted delivery of radiation focuses solely on the brain tumors. It causes little impact to the healthy brain and few side effects.
Whole Brain Radiation Therapy
If your tumors are larger or your cancer has spread to more parts of the brain, we may use whole brain radiation. We can give you medications to protect the healthy parts of your brain. When possible, we use a technique that reduces the risk of damaging important parts of the brain.
Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT)
When we perform LITT, we use only a small cut and use heat from a laser to destroy your tumors. We use a robot and advanced imaging. This helps us target the tumor without hurting your healthy brain tissue.
We may use this surgery if:
- Your brain tumors go away and come back
- You have damaged brain tissue
- Open surgery would be too difficult in your case
Taking out the tumors can relieve pressure on your brain and lessen your symptoms. Our surgeons are experts in operating on this critical part of the body.
Physical, Occupational, & Speech Therapies
We offer speech, occupational, and physical therapy.These can help with neurological symptoms like headaches and balance problems.
At the Forefront of Clinical Trial Research
UVA Health works on the front lines of research to find new ways to treat brain cancer.
Through clinical trials, we bring you treatment options you can’t find anywhere else. Our research improves and prolongs patients' lives. We’ll help you find clinical trials that can help you.