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Adenocarcinoma of the Lung and Brain Metastases


Adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer, and adenocarcinoma of the lung is one type of non-small cell lung cancer that often develops along the outer edges of the lung and under the membranes lining the bronchi.

Brain metastasis is cancer that has spread to the brain from another site in the body, most commonly the lung or breast.

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Adenocarcinoma of the lung is one of the most common types of lung cancer and accounts for 30 to 35 percent of primary lung tumors. The most common source of intracranial (within the brain) metastasis is carcinoma of the lung. Other primary sites are the breast, kidney, and the gastrointestinal tract.

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Metastatic brain tumors present in the same way as other brain tumors. Patients have increased intracranial pressure and/or localized or diffuse disturbances of cerebral function.

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The diagnosis relies upon the medical history, physical examination, and radiological studies such as a head CT (computed tomography) scan or a head MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

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The treatment of brain metastases depends on factors such as the tumor of origin (for example, adenocarcinoma of the lung), the number and location of the lesions within the brain, and the extent of cancer in places other than the brain. Most patients are placed on steroids (Decadron) to relieve significant brain swelling that can cause severe symptoms. Many patients may also take an anti-seizure medicine, since seizures are a common complication.

The standard approach with brain metastases of any other origin is to decide whether the tumor can be removed. A head CT scan or a head MRI is helpful in determining if there is more than one tumor and to define the specific sites in the brain where the tumor or tumors are located. In patients with only a single brain tumor who are otherwise well, it may be possible to surgically remove the tumor and then treat with irradiation.

Patients with brain metastases from lymphoma, leukemia or small cell cancer are generally given radiation therapy to the entire brain, although these tumors may also be treated with systemic chemotherapy. In patients with multiple metastases or widespread disease, the prognosis is often gloomy and treatment is palliative (reducing the severity of symptoms).

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Questions to Ask Your Doctor

What is the staging of the primary cancer?

What are treatment options?

Is surgery indicated?

Would chemotherapy or radiation therapy help?

What are benefits and risks of the treatment options?

Should participating in clinical trials be considered?

What is the short-term prognosis?

What is the long-term prognosis?

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