Find out what metastasis is, which happened to Glória Maria in the treatment of cancer


Coverage of terrorist invasions, reports in deserts, contact with nomadic peoples, interviews with dictators, jumping from the highest bungee-jump in the world, none of this was a match for Glória Maria, pioneer of Brazilian TV. The journalist died on Thursday morning at the age of 73. According to TV Globo, Gloria’s treatment to combat the metastases that existed in her brain stopped working in recent days.

Glória Maria had been undergoing cancer treatment since 2019 after being diagnosed with lung cancer and, after successful immunotherapy treatment for the respiratory system, underwent surgery to contain the progression of the disease in the brain. The operation was also successful, but the treatment sequence did not advance, according to a note released today by the broadcaster.

TV Globo states that “in the middle of last year, Glória Maria began a new phase of treatment to combat new brain metastases which, unfortunately, has stopped working in recent days.” The presenter and reporter from Rio de Janeiro died at the Copa Star Hospital, in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro.

Radio-oncologist Flávio Guimarães, from the Hospital das Clínicas of the Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto at USP (University of São Paulo), states that the term metastasis indicates the implantation of a tumor at a distance. That is, a new tumor lesion arises from the evolution of cells from the first cancerous spot.

In the specific case of brain metastasis, it occurs when some malignant neoplasm (cancer) from a certain region of the body releases small microscopic fragments, which, through the bloodstream, are implanted in the brain”, points out Guimarães.

Maria Ignez Braghiroli, clinical oncologist and member of Sboc (Brazilian Society of Clinical Oncology), says that some tumors, such as lung cancer, favor the spread of the disease throughout the body due to their molecular profile.

“Thus, it is recommended that, for some diseases, the brain be evaluated even when the person does not have neurological symptoms”, says the doctor.

The oncologist also points out that the fact that it is a metastatic lesion, outside the place where the tumor initially appeared, makes treatment difficult, as it indicates a more advanced disease.

“When we talk about a metastasis in the brain, it is much more complex. We need to assess the location of the lesions, the characteristics of the tumor and perspectives with treatments to then decide how to proceed”, says Braghiroli.

This is because some therapies offer better penetration into the brain, while others may not have satisfactory results for the patient’s profile.

“It also depends on the symptoms they are causing: if they lead to hypertension in the brain, if they cause bleeding… All this is taken into account in the decision to start a systemic treatment –chemotherapy or targeted therapy–, surgery or radiotherapy”, reinforces the doctor.

Neurosurgeon Hugo Sterman Neto, a physician at Icesp (Cancer Institute of the State of São Paulo) at the Hospital das Clínicas of the Faculty of Medicine of USP (University of São Paulo), points out that some malignant tumors have a greater capacity to enter the nervous system, whose access is difficult.

Sterman claims that the so-called blood-brain barrier is intended to keep out infectious agents and harmful cells. Lung cancer, however, can affect the brain more frequently because it has cells that are more efficient in overcoming this obstacle in the body.

“It is a very common cancer in the population. It has cells that are more ‘capable’ of entering the nervous system. [Além disso]treatments have become more effective and patients survive longer, increasing the risk of dissemination to the brain”, says the doctor.

Lung cancer in Brazil, according to estimates by the National Cancer Institute (Inca), a federal government agency, is the third most common in men and the fourth in women, with about 30,200 cases per year in the country.

It is also the first in the world in terms of incidence among men and the third among women, with the highest mortality for men and the second most deadly for women – global data indicate 2.12 million new cases per year, of which 1 .35 million in men and 770 thousand in women.

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