Leptomeningeal metastasis is a devastating complication of the central nervous system in patients with late-stage solid or hematological cancers. Leptomeningeal metastasis results from the multifocal seeding of the leptomeninges by malignant cancer cells. Although central nervous system metastasis usually presents in patients with widely disseminated and progressive late-stage cancer, malignant cells may spread to the cerebrospinal fluid during earlier disease stages in particularly aggressive cancers. Treatment of leptomeningeal metastasis is largely palliative but will often provide stabilization and protection from further neurological deterioration and improve quality of life. There is a need to raise awareness of the impact of leptomeningeal metastases on cancer patients and its known and putative biological basis. Novel diagnostic approaches include identification of biomarkers that may stratify the risk for developing leptomeningeal metastasis. Current therapies can be used more effectively while waiting for advanced treatments to be developed.
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