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Understanding Metastatic Cancer

Do you have a good understanding of metastatic cancer? If not, start with the basics: metastatic is a term that refers to cancer that has spread from its place of origin to another part of the body. For example, a person could have breast cancer that eventually spreads to the lungs -- this would be called metastatic breast cancer. Some types can be cured; however, most cannot.


What Is Metastatic Cancer?

If you hear "metastatic cancer," what do you think of? For some people, they think it means certain death. Others may think they have cancer all over their body. Before you let your mind run wild, let's take a closer look at what this type of cancer is, whether it's treatable, and what your options are.
First off, metastatic cancer means the cancer has spread from the place where it originated to another area in the body. If a tumor is formed by metastatic cancer cells, it is called a metastatic tumor. Metastasis is the process by which cancer cells spread to other areas of the body.
Figuring out how to name a cancer that has spread can also be confusing. For example, if a cancer starts in the brain and then spreads to the lungs, is it brain cancer or lung cancer? Just remember that metastatic cancer will have the same name and same type of cancer cells as the original cancer. This means that, for our example, where the cancer started in the brain and then spread to the lungs, it would be called metastatic brain cancer, not lung cancer.
Nearly all cancers can form metastatic tumors. While most cancers can spread to different areas in the body, they tend to spread to one site more often than others. For instance, the most common sites of metastasis are the bone, lungs, and liver. However, certain types of cancers may tend to spread to certain other areas of the body. Let's take a look at what we mean by that.
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