Brain metastasis occurs when cancer in one part of the body spreads to the brain. The lifetime incidence of such metastatic brain tumors in cancer patients is between 20%-45%, research shows.

A new study from USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Keck Medicine of USC, suggests that the region cancer spreads to in the brain may not be random, but rather, is dependent on where the cancer originated in the body.

“We discovered that different types of cancer are more likely to show up in specific parts of the brain once they metastasize, indicating the location of tumors follow a distinct pattern,” said Gabriel Zada, MD, a brain and tumor neurosurgeon with Keck Medicine of USC and senior author of the study. He is also a member of USC Norris and director of the USC Brain Tumor Center.

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