Breast cancer metastasis to the central nervous system

Am J Pathol. 2005 Oct;167(4):913-20. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)61180-7.


Clinically symptomatic metastases to the central nervous system (CNS) occur in approximately 10 to 15% of patients with metastatic beast cancer. CNS metastases are traditionally viewed as a late complication of systemic disease, for which few effective treatment options exist. Recently, patients with Her-2-positive breast tumors who were treated with trastuzumab have been reported to develop CNS metastases at higher rates, often while responding favorably to treatment. The blood:brain barrier and the unique brain microenvironment are hypothesized to promote distinct molecular features in CNS metastases that may require tailored therapeutic approaches. New research approaches using cell lines that reliably and preferentially metastasize in vivo to the brain have been reported. Using such model systems, as well as in vitro analogs of blood-brain barrier penetration and tissue-based studies, new molecular leads into this disease are unfolding.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Survival Analysis
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Trastuzumab


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Trastuzumab