Brain metastases of breast cancer

Breast Dis. 2006-2007;26:139-47. doi: 10.3233/bd-2007-26112.


Central nervous system or brain metastases traditionally occur in 10-16% of metastatic breast cancer patients and are associated with a dismal prognosis. The development of brain metastases has been associated with young age, and tumors that are estrogen receptor negative, Her-2+ or of the basal phenotype. Treatment typically includes whole brain irradiation, or either stereotactic radiosurgery or surgery with whole brain radiation, resulting in an approximately 20% one year survival. The blood-brain barrier is a formidable obstacle to the delivery of chemotherapeutics to the brain. Mouse experimental metastasis model systems have been developed for brain metastasis using selected sublines of human MDA-MB-231 breast carcinoma cells. Using micron sized iron particles and MRI imaging, the fate of MDA-MB-231BR cells has been mapped: Approximately 2% of injected cells form larger macroscopic metastases, while 5% of cells remain as dormant cells in the brain. New therapies with permeability for the blood-brain barrier are needed to counteract both types of tumor cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Brain Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Drug Design
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Humans
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Mice
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Risk Factors


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor, ErbB-2