Like many things in cancer, colon cancer can spread, too. At first, it affects the nearby tissues and organs particularly such as other parts of the digestive system. Even the cancer cells can go to other distinct organs such as liver and lungs. But does this cancer spread to the brain?
The primary cancer is a term used for the first place where a cancer starts growing. If some cancer cells break away from the primary site, they can travel through bloodstream or/and lymphatic system. As a result, they may get trapped to another part /organ of the body which then may form a new cancerous growth called secondary cancer.
Metastasis is medical term used to describe the process of cancer cells that spread from their primary site to another part of the body. In case of secondary brain cancer, cells of cancer in the brain are made of the same type of cancer cells where they come from.
So having secondary brain cancer doesn’t mean you have brain cancer since cancer cells are derived from other parts of the body.
For instance, many times cancer cells that first started in the lungs can travel to the brain, making a new cancerous tumor in the brain. But this is different from having a cancerous tumor that first developed in the brain (a primary brain tumor).
Understanding between primary and secondary cancer is so crucial. Because the type of primary cancer you are having can play a key role to determine your treatment plan!
The signs and symptoms can vary. Furthermore, the secondary cancer in the brain may already be taken before it causes symptoms.
Brain itself is a complex and vital organ of the body. There are some parts of the brain which each has different functions.
Therefore if the cancer does cause the symptoms, the place of where it grows in the brain can play a key role. But in general, the symptoms may include:
- General feeling of sick.
- Seizures may occur.
- Weakness in particular part of the body.
- Changes in moods or/and personality.
- Changes in eyesight.
Having these symptoms doesn’t mean you definitely have a secondary brain cancer. These can be attributed by different causes. For example, even some mild conditions can lead to headaches and mood changes.
But if you have some of these symptoms and you do concern about your health, see a doctor promptly particularly if they persist and last longer than what you think!
If your doctor thinks that you have a secondary brain tumor, there are several tests you may need to follow to diagnose the disease:
- Neurological examination to analyze your nervous system. For instance, your doctor will analyze and look into your eyes to find any changes! Your muscle strength & reaction times will be evaluated, too.
- Imaging tests such as with MRI scan or/and CT scan test.
- Biopsy test, a procedure that takes a sample of tissue /cells from your brain to see whether you have any cancer cell in the brain. However, sometime cancerous tumor in the brain can show up in brain scans and biopsy may not be required.
As mentioned earlier, liver is the most common place where cancer that primary grows in the colon to spread. Lungs are at the second place. Because both liver and lungs have many blood vessels and lymphatic vessels that line to the bowel (including colon and rectum).
And in less common cases, cancer cells that primary started in the colon can travel to the brain, causing a secondary brain cancer.
The primary lung cancer is the most common type of cancer that spread to the brain. Other cancers from other parts of the body can affect brain, these include: