Although the five-year survival rates for patients with breast cancer are 90%, melanoma 91% and brain cancer 25%, the five-year survival rates for patients with distant  metastases  are 24% for breast cancer, 12% for stage IV metastatic malignant melanoma, and 2.9% for stage IV glioblastoma multiforme.


Almost three quarters of all stage IV melanoma patients will develop brain metastases during the course of their disease, with an overall survival of less than four months.  Almost half of breast cancer patients with metastatic estrogen-negative tumors develop brain metastases during the course of their disease, with a median survival for triple-receptor negative breast cancer patients of  less than four months. 


Over 90% of patients with astrocytomas have high-grade glioblastoma multiforme tumors when initially diagnosed and a median survival of about 1 year from diagnosis with standard-of-care surgery and radiation therapy.


SEER Cancer Statistics Review for 1975-2006 by the National Cancer Institute accessed August 2013; Seer Survival Monograph U.S. SEER Program 1988-2001 Chapter  25; Smith et al. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 93(16):1246 (2001)

Metastatic brain tumors represent a major problem for most cancer therapeutic agents because oflimited access to the brain through the blood-brain-barrier (BBB).Brain metastases out number primary neoplasms by at least 10 to 1, and they occur in 20% to 40% of cancer patients.  It has been estimated that 98,000 to 170,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year. The most common primary cancers metastasizing to the brain are lung cancer (50%), breast cancer (15%–20%), unknown primary cancer (10%–15%), melanoma (10%), and colon cancer (5%). Eighty percent of brain metastases occur in the cerebral hemispheres, 15% occur in the cerebellum, and 5% occur in the brain stem.

Ries et al., Seer Survival Monograph: Cancer Survival Among adults: U.S. Seer Program 1988-2001, Patient and tumor Characteristics NIH Pu. No. 07-6215 (2007).

Brain Metastases

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