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Prognosis for stage 4 metastatic brain cancer

Updated November 21, 2016

Metastatic brain cancer is cancer that has spread from the original tumour site to the brain. Stage 4 is a term indicating that the cancer has spread from its original location. About 10 to 30 per cent of all adult cancers spread to the brain, according to the National Institutes of Health.

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A number of different cancers can spread to the brain including breast cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, kidney cancer, testicular cancer and some sarcomas. Less commonly, colon and prostate cancers can spread to the brain as well.

Factors in Determing Prognosis

Factors affecting the prognosis for metastatic brain cancer include age, especially whether under 60 years of age, whether there are more than two tumours in the brain, where the tumours are located in the brain, response to treatment and whether the tumour grows or spreads to other sites.

Prognosis based on Primary Cancer

The prognosis also varies depending on where the original cancer began. For instance, the prognosis for breast cancer that has spread to the brain is much better than the prognosis for colon cancer that has spread.

Overall Prognosis

Unfortunately, the general prognosis for metastatic brain cancer is quite poor. However, every case is different and different outcomes are possible depending on a number of factors.


The typical life expectancy with stage 4 metastatic brain cancer is about two years, according to the National Institutes of Health.

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About the Author

Katlyn Joy has been a freelance writer since 1982. She graduated from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville with a master's degree in writing. While in school she served as graduate assistant editor of "Drumvoices Revue" magazine.

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