Dr. Bovis, like many neurosurgeons specializing in the treatment of brain tumors, treats many cancer patients who have developed brain metastases. A brain metastasis is a tumor that results from the spread of a primary cancer’s cells into the brain. For instance, the primary causes of breast cancer, lung cancer, kidney (renal) cancer, skin (melanoma) and GI cancer, if found in the brain, are referred to as a brain metastasis.
Brain metastases are the most common brain tumors seen today, comprising well over half of all brain tumors. The annual incidence of brain metastases in the United States is nearly 170,000 cases, compared with only 17,000 for primary brain tumors. The risk of developing brain metastases varies according to primary tumor type. Approximately 50 percent of annual brain tumor cases are the result of lung cancer. Another 15 percent of the brain tumor cases treated each year result from breast cancer. In fact, up to 40 percent of all lung cancer patients will develop a brain metastasis, and one third of all breast cancer patients will experience a brain metastasis.
Dr. Bovis believes that the number of patients with brain metastases is rising because of the aging population, the improved ability of imaging modalities, such as MRI, to detect smaller metastases in patients even before symptoms present, and improved systemic treatment of the primary cancer.
Despite these trends, Dr. Bovis remains very optimistic about the treatment options available to patients with brain metastases. Non-invasive treatment options, including Gamma Knife radiosurgery, as well as approaches that include highly refined surgical techniques coupled with stereotactic radiosurgery, represent excellent treatment options for patients with brain metastases.
Dr. Bovis emphasizes that early diagnosis of brain metastases is critical to effectively treating the tumor(s). If patients are diagnosed before symptoms present, neurosurgical treatment can, in many cases, prevent any future injury caused by the tumor. Put very simply, the earlier the brain metastases are identified, the more treatment choices patients have.
The symptoms associated with brain metastases vary based upon the tumor(s) location in the brain. Common symptoms include weakness on one side of the body, speech difficulties, headache, visual disturbances, seizures, and cognitive dysfunction.
Many factors are taken into consideration by Dr. Bovis in the development of a treatment plan for a patient with brain metastases. For example, Dr. Bovis will consider the status of the primary disease (lung, breast, kidney, melanoma, GI, etc.), symptoms associated with the brain metastases, the presence of metastases outside of the brain, and the number of tumors in the brain. It is because of the complexity of these factors and their interplay that patients with brain metastases are best served by a neurosurgeon, like Dr. Bovis, who has dedicated his practice to the treatment of brain tumors.
Neurosurgical treatment options of brain metastases include Gamma Knife radiosurgery and surgical removal, referred to as resection. As previously mentioned, Dr. Bovis considers many factors before recommending one treatment option over another. Frequently, Dr. Bovis may recommend surgical resection for patients harboring one larger metastasis in an accessible location. Improved imaging techniques, including intraoperative MRI, as well as surgical navigation technologies and methods used by Dr. Bovis make these surgeries very safe and effective.
The other common treatment option used by many leading neurosurgeons in the treatment of brain metastases is Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Read an overview of Gamma Knife radisourgery, including information about the benefits, treatment process, and the Illinois Gamma Knife Center, by clicking here.
Current evidence shows that stereotactic radiosurgery provides high local tumor control rates, meaning brain metastases treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery, in many instances, do not continue to grow or multiply. It can be used to treat multiple brain tumors in a single session and can be repeated in the instance of recurrent disease.
Dr. Bovis wants all patients evaluating their treatment options for brain metastases to understand that safe and effective treatments do exist in the hands of appropriate brain tumor specialists. Furthermore, medicine in this area continues to evolve and an increasing number of reports are being published showing improvements in survival and tumor control with multimodal management of brain metastases and extracranial cancer. Dr. Bovis is committed to being on the forefront of these advancements and remains passionately focused on improving the lives of his patients with brain tumors.
Dr. Bovis performs surgery to remove brain metastases at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and Alexian Brothers Medical Center. He also welcomes questions about brain metastases. Prospective patients are welcome to call (847) 698-1088 to schedule an appointment.