Metastatic Brain and Spine Tumors

Metastatic Brain and Spine Tumors
Malignant cells from a tumor in the lungs can move into the bloodstream; once there the tumor can metastasize to the brain and/or the spine.

A metastatic brain or spine tumor, also called a secondary tumor, is one that originated in another cancer elsewhere in the body and spread to the central nervous system. Tumors that commonly spread to the brain and spine include breast, lung, skin, colon, and kidney. It is not unusual for a patient who experiences metastasis to develop two or more brain and spine tumors.

Metastatic brain tumors are the most common type of brain tumors diagnosed in adults. (This is in contrast to pediatric brain tumors, which – although rare – are more likely to be primary tumors.) The process of metastasis is not completely understood, but researchers believe that cancerous cells from a tumor site use the circulatory systems to spread to a remote site in the brain or spine.

Advanced tractography imaging of a metastatic brain tumor

A patient with a metastatic brain tumor should be seen by a multidisciplinary team at a major medical center, where experts in a wide range of specialists can attend to the many needs of patient, caregivers, and other family members. While surgery or stereotactic radiation may be needed, we have found that our patients benefit from a more comprehensive approach. At the Weill Cornell Medicine Brain Metastases Clinic, our team includes not only neuro-oncologists, neurologists, and neurosurgeons but also social workers, neuropsychologists, pain management experts, social workers, and more — all dedicated to providing the most complete, compassionate care. Immunotherapy and Precision Oncology are also routinely employed so that targeted therapies can be offered when applicable.


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Our Care Team

  • Chair and Neurosurgeon-in-Chief
  • Margaret and Robert J. Hariri, MD ’87, PhD ’87 Professor of Neurological Surgery
  • Vice Provost of Business Affairs and Integration
Phone: 212-746-4684
  • Chief of Neurological Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist
  • Professor, Neurological Surgery
  • Director, Brain Metastases Program
  • Co-director, William Rhodes and Louise Tilzer-Rhodes Center for Glioblastoma
Phone: 212-746-1996 (Manhattan) / 718-780-3070 (Brooklyn)
  • Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery
  • Leon Levy Research Fellow
  • Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute
Phone: 646-962-3389
  • Director, Neurosurgical Radiosurgery
  • Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery
Phone: 212-746-2438
  • Chief of Neurological Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Queens
  • Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery
  • Co-director, Weill Cornell Medicine CSF Leak Program
Phone: (718) 670-1837
  • Vice Chair for Clinical Research
  • David and Ursel Barnes Professor of Minimally Invasive Brain Surgery
  • Professor of Neurosurgery, Neurology, and Otolaryngology
  • Director, Center for Epilepsy and Pituitary Surgery
  • Co-Director, Surgical Neuro-oncology
Phone: 212-746-5620
  • Assistant Attending Neurologist, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
  • Assistant Professor of Neuro-Oncologist
Phone: 646-962-2185

Reviewed by: Rohan Ramakrishna, MD
Last reviewed/last updated: December 2020
Illustration by Thom Graves CMI

Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787