Ask the Expert: What is the connection between melanoma and brain metastases?

Source: Daily Progress, May 2023

hat is the connection between melanoma and brain metastases?Brain metastases occur when existing cancer cells grow to form one or more secondary tumors that invade the nervous system. While any cancer can spread to the brain, the likelihood is greater with some types of cancer, including melanoma, lung and breast cancer.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can often spread to other parts of the body if not recognized and treated early. Melanoma accounts for approximately 10% of all brain metastasis cases, and nearly 30% of all patients with newly diagnosed metastatic melanoma will see their cancer spread to the brain.

The symptoms of brain metastases will vary depending on their location and may include headaches, neurologic deficits and seizures. Occasionally, the symptoms may occur suddenly, like with a stroke, due to bleeding from these tumors in the brain. Many patients, however, have no symptoms and so the metastases are found incidentally during routine brain imaging performed on patients who are at high risk to have their cancer spread, like those patients with melanoma.