Neurosurgery for brain metastasis from breast cancer

Yusuke Tomita, Kazuhiko Kurozumi, Kentaro Fujii, Yosuke Shimazu, Isao Date

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Breast cancer is the most common malignancy among women worldwide, and the main cause of death in patients with breast cancer is metastasis. Metastasis to the central nervous system occurs in 10% to 16% of patients with metastatic breast cancer, and this rate has increased because of recent advancements in systemic chemotherapy. Because of the various treatments available for brain metastasis, accurate diagnosis and evaluation for treatment are important. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of the most reliable preoperative examinations not only for diagnosis of metastatic brain tumors but also for estimation of the molecular characteristics of the tumor based on radiographic information such as the number of lesions, solid or ring enhancement, and cyst formation. Surgical resection continues to play an important role in patients with a limited number of brain metastases and a relatively good performance status. A single brain metastasis is a good indication for surgical treatment followed by radiation therapy to obtain longer survival. Surgical removal is also considered for two or more lesions if neurological symptoms are caused by brain lesions of >3 cm with a mass effect or associated hydrocephalus. Although maximal safe resection with minimal morbidity is ideal in the surgical treatment of brain tumors, supramarginal resection can be achieved in select cases. With respect to the resection technique, en bloc resection is generally recommended to avoid leptomeningeal dissemination induced by piecemeal resection. An operating microscope, neuronavigation, and intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring are essential in modern neurosurgical procedures, including tumor resection. More recently, supporting surgical instruments have been introduced. The use of endoscopic surgery has dramatically increased, especially for intraventricular lesions and in transsphenoidal surgery. An exoscope helps neurosurgeons to comfortably operate regardless of patient positioning or anatomy. A tubular retractor can prevent damage to the surrounding brain tissue during surgery and is a useful instrument in combination with both an endoscope and exoscope. Additionally, 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) is a promising reagent for photodynamic detection of residual tumor tissue. In the near future, novel treatment options such as high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT), oncolytic virus therapy, and gene therapy will be introduced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5063-5076
Number of pages14
JournalTranslational Cancer Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Breast cancer
  • Metastatic brain tumor
  • Neurosurgical technique

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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