Metastatic Cancer – Understanding Advanced Cancer

The worst word a patient can expect to hear from their physician is that they have cancer, and worse still is when cancer has “metastasized” or “spread”. Cancers are by no means novel and old papyri from ancient Egypt have described cancers and how they present since antiquity, and despite the advances in medical sciences, the outcome of many cancers remains a grim one.

What is metastasis?

Metastasis is when cancer cells leave the place in which they developed in the body to another, either a neighboring organ, a lymph node or other distal sites in the body via the blood stream or lymphatics, where they continue to grow and produce the same or worse symptoms. This can occur at any time after cancer develops and despite it being an end stage of many cancers, not all cancers metastasize, and some will only grow at their site of origin.