What Does Metastatic Disease Mean?

Reviewed on 1/26/2021

What Does Metastatic Disease Mean?

Metastatic disease describes a cancer that has spread from its primary site to other tissues and/or organs.
Metastatic disease describes a cancer that has spread from its primary site to other tissues and/or organs.

When cancer spreads from its primary, or original, site where it formed to other parts of the body this is called metastases. It is also sometimes referred to as advanced cancer

Cancer cells usually metastasize (spread) through the bloodstream or the lymph system. The lymph nodes, lungs, liver, and bones are common areas of metastasis.

When a metastatic tumor spreads to a new location, it is still considered the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if breast cancer cells metastasize to the lung, the cancer cells in the lung are breast cancer cells, not lung cancer cells.

How is Metastatic Disease Treated?

While treatment for metastatic cancer often cannot cure the disease, the goal is usually to slow the growth or spread of the cancer. 

Treatment for metastatic cancer depends on the type of cancer, where it originated, the size and location of the tumor and metastasis, and the overall health of the patient, along with other considerations. 

Treatment for metastatic disease may include one or more of the following: 

  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Surgery
  • Palliative treatments to manage side effects and improve quality of life

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Reviewed on 1/26/2021
References
https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/metastasis

https://www.cancercenter.com/metastasis