Cancer is a disease caused by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells in the body. One of the most dangerous aspects of cancer is called metastasis — a cancer’s ability to spread to other areas of the body.
When cancer forms, treatment options such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation have the potential to eradicate most tumors. However, once cancer spreads or metastasizes to other parts of the body, it can become difficult to treat or eliminate. Different types of cancers metastasize in different ways and can spread to various parts of the body depending on where the cancer originates.
What Is Metastatic Cancer?
Metastatic cancer occurs when cancer cells spread from the part of the body where it started (primary site) to another distant area in the body. When cancer cells break off from a tumor, they can travel through the bloodstream or lymph system (i.e., lymph nodes and lymph vessels).
If cancer cells enter the bloodstream, they will either die or settle in a new part of the body where they may begin to metastasize. If cancer cells travel through the lymph system, they could settle in nearby lymph nodes or other organs. Although it is possible for some metastatic cancers to be cured, they are still considered stage 4.
The treatment of metastatic cancer often depends on where in the body the cancer originated. For example, if breast cancer spreads to the lungs (referred to as “metastatic breast cancer to the lungs”), it is treated as metastatic breast cancer — not lung cancer. In this case, it is likely that a doctor will recommend various treatment methods that are known for treating metastatic cancers.
Common Types of Cancers that Could Metastasize
- Breast Cancer – Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer, affecting one in three women each year. It usually starts in the milk ducts or glands of the breast and can spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body. The likelihood of breast cancer spreading depends on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis. If it is caught early, the chances of the cancer spreading can be lower.
- Lung Cancer – Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. It usually starts in the cells that line the air passages in the lungs and can spread to other parts of the body. Lung cancer is more likely to metastasize to the brain, bones, liver and adrenal glands.
- Colorectal Cancer – Colorectal cancer is a cancer that starts in the colon or rectum and can spread to other parts of the body. Colorectal cancer is more likely to metastasize to the liver and lungs.
- Ovarian Cancer – Ovarian cancer is a cancer that starts in the ovaries (the female reproductive organs that produce eggs). It can spread to other parts of the body, including the peritoneum, liver and lungs. Ovarian cancer is more likely to metastasize if it is advanced or has spread beyond the ovaries.
- Prostate Cancer – Prostate cancer is a cancer that affects the prostate gland in men. It is the most common type of cancer in men and usually grows slowly. Prostate cancer is more likely to metastasize to the bones, especially the spine, pelvis and ribs.
- Melanoma – Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the melanocytes, which are cells that produce pigment. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, lungs, liver and brain. It is one of the most aggressive types of cancer, and early detection is crucial to prevent it from spreading.
- Pancreatic Cancer – Pancreatic cancer is a cancer that starts in the pancreas, a gland located behind the stomach that produces digestive enzymes and hormones. It is one of the most aggressive types of cancer and can spread quickly to other parts of the body, including the liver, lungs and peritoneum (the membrane that lines the abdominopelvic cavity, surrounding the abdominal organs).
- Kidney Cancer – Kidney cancer is a cancer that starts in the kidneys, the organs that filter waste products from the blood. It can spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs, bones and liver. Kidney cancer is more likely to metastasize if it is large or has invaded nearby tissues.
- Bladder Cancer – Bladder cancer is a cancer that starts in the bladder, the hollow organ in the pelvis that stores urine. It can spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs, liver and bones. Bladder cancer is more likely to metastasize if it is invasive or high-grade.
- Brain Cancer – Brain cancer is a cancer that starts in the brain or the spinal cord. It can spread to other parts of the brain or the spinal cord and is more likely to metastasize to the lungs.
Have You Been Diagnosed with Cancer? Our Team Specializes in Providing Advanced Cancer Treatments in Southwestern Oregon
If you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed with cancer, you are not alone. Our dedicated team at the Community Cancer Center is dedicated to helping patients navigate their diagnosis and develop a personalized treatment plan that targets their specific type of cancer.
Call 541-673-2267 to learn more about our treatment options in Roseburg.