Brain and spinal tumours

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Brain and spinal cord metastases

Brain and spinal cord metastases occur when a cancer spreads to the brain or spinal cord from another part of the body.

Brain metastases

Brain metastases are more common than tumours that start in the brain (primary brain tumours). It is more common to have multiple brain metastases than a single metastasis.

Any primary cancer can spread to the brain. Cancers that most often spread to the brain include:

  • lung
  • breast
  • melanoma
  • colorectal
  • kidney

Leptomeningeal metastases (also called meningeal carcinomatosis) are tumours that develop when cancer spreads from another part of the body to the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord (meninges).

Cancers that most often spread to the meninges are:

  • breast
  • lung
  • leukemia

Find out more about brain metastases.

Spinal cord metastases

Spinal cord metastases most often occur in the bones of the spine (vertebrae) and are called bone metastases.

Cancers that most often spread to the spine include:

  • breast
  • prostate
  • lung

Find out more about bone metastases.

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