Metastatic Cancer – Understanding Advanced Cancer

Symptoms of metastatic cancer

There are no fixed symptoms for metastatic cancer. What is common is that the overall condition of the patient worsens rapidly after the onset of metastasis. Since metastases behave like the primary tumor they can present by:

  • Masses: The patient may feel or notice additional masses either close to the original tumor or in faraway sites. The masses may be unsightly or may cause discomfort, especially if they are located around joints.
  • Numbness: If the mass is located on or close to a nerve and enlarges, it will compress the nerve causing a wide variety of symptoms depending on the type of nerve and site. Symptoms include pain, numbness, a burning sensation or weakened muscles if the nerve is motor.
  • Bone fractures: The bone is one of the most common sites for metastases and, as a common feature of most metastases, they eat up the bone causing severe weakening and easy fracture.
  • Jaundice: Jaundice can result from a multitude of causes and are mostly due to problems in the liver or the bile ducts. Metastases whether in the liver or around the bile ducts can impair liver function or obstruct bile flow, respectively.
  • Fever, malaise and a general feeling of unwellness: Cancers secrete various chemical substances that may cause inflammation and fever.
  • Loss of weight: Loss of weight is one of the hallmarks of malignancy. Cancers need enormous amount of energy which are mostly not fulfilled by daily meals causing it to eat the body stores of fat and muscles.