Actress Shannen Doherty has revealed on Instagram that her breast cancer has now spread to her brain. The Beverly Hills, 90210 and Charmed star was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and underwent a mastectomy, radiation and chemotherapy. She announced in 2017 that she was in remission but was then diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2020. Stage 4 breast cancer, or metastatic breast cancer, has spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other parts of the body, making it harder to treat. When breast cancer spreads, it most commonly goes to the bones, liver, and lungs, but it can also spread to the brain or other organs. The brain is a less common site for metastatic breast cancer, and some subtypes of breast cancer are more likely to go to the brain when they spread. Currently, doctors do not recommend routine monitoring for metastatic brain tumors in people with HER2-positive or triple-negative breast cancers who do not have symptoms. Many medications used to treat aggressive cancers do not cross the blood-brain barrier, making it harder to treat breast cancer that has spread to the brain. However, certain newer medications can cross the blood-brain barrier, improving the outlook for people with metastatic brain tumors. Other treatment options for brain metastases include neurosurgery to remove the tumors and stereotactic radiosurgery, which uses focused beams of radiation to treat brain tumors without cutting into the brain. The best way to reduce the risk of breast cancer spreading to the brain is to diagnose and treat the cancer early. By the time the cancer cells show up on brain scans, it is often too late to cure the cancer. Surgery alone is not the end of treatment, and some medication is necessary to kill any cancer cells that have escaped from the breast before they can lodge themselves in an organ that is critical, such as the brain.
Shannen Doherty's Breast Cancer Spreads to Brain