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Encyclopedia > Metastasis
Classification & external resources
CT scan with metastatic tumour in lung (top right)
DiseasesDB 28954
MedlinePlus 002260

Metastasis (Greek: displacement, μετά=next + στάσις=placement, plural: metastases), sometimes abbreviated mets, is the spread of a disease from one organ or part to another non-contiguous organ or part. Only malignant tumor cells and infections have the capacity to metastasize. Metastasis, also Metastaseis (dialectic transformations), is an orchestral work for 65 musicians by Iannis Xenakis. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... The Disease Bold textDatabase is a free website that provides information about the relationships between medical conditions, symptoms, and medications. ... MedlinePlus (medlineplus. ... This article is about the medical term. ... Åž:For other uses, see Organ (disambiguation) In biology, an organ (Latin: organum, instrument, tool) is a group of tissues that perform a specific function or group of functions. ... See the article about cancer for the main article about malignant tumors. ...

Cancer cells can "break away" from a primary tumor, penetrate into lymphatic and blood vessels, circulate through the bloodstream, and grow in a distant focus (metastasize) in normal tissues elsewhere in the body. Metastasis is considered a hallmark of malignancy. [1] All tumors can metastasize albeit to varying degrees, barring a few exceptions (eg. Glioma and Basal cell carcinoma never metastasize).[1] Cancer is a class of diseases or disorders characterized by uncontrolled division of cells and the ability of these to spread, either by direct growth into adjacent tissue through invasion, or by implantation into distant sites by metastasis (where cancer cells are transported through the bloodstream or lymphatic system). ... Primary tumor is the nomenclature used when the tumor has originated in the same organ, and has not metastasized to it. ... Lymph originates as blood plasma lost from the circulatory system, which leaks out into the surrounding tissues. ... f you all The blood vessels are part of the circulatory system and function to transport blood throughout the body. ... A glioma is a type of primary central nervous system (CNS) tumor that arises from glial cells. ... Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common skin cancer. ...

When cancer cells spread to form a new tumor, it is called a secondary, or metastatic tumor, and its cells are like those in the original tumor. This means, for example, that if breast cancer spreads (metastasizes) to the lung, the secondary tumor is made up of abnormal breast cells (not abnormal lung cells). The disease in the lung is then called metastatic breast cancer (not lung cancer). Breast cancer is cancer of breast tissue. ...


Modes and sites of metastatic dispersal

Metastatic tumors are very common in the late stages of cancer. The spread of metastases may occur via the blood or the lymphatics or through both routes. The most common places for the metastases to occur are the adrenals, liver, brain and the bones.[citation needed] There is also a propensity for certain tumors to seed in particular organs. This was first discussed as the "seed and soil" theory by Stephen Paget over a century ago in 1889. For example, prostate cancer usually metastasizes to the bones. Similarly, colon cancer has a tendency to metastasize to the liver. Stomach cancer often metastasizes to the ovary in women, where it forms a Krukenberg tumor. It is difficult for cancer cells to survive outside their region of origin, so in order to metastasize they must find a location with similar characteristics. In mammals, the adrenal gland (also known as suprarenal glands) are the triangle-shaped endocrine glands that sit on top of the kidneys; their name indicates that position (ad, near or at + renes, kidneys). They are chiefly responsible for regulating the stress response through the synthesis of corticosteroids and catecholamines... The liver is an organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. ... For other uses, see Brain (disambiguation). ... This article is about the skeletal organs. ... Stephen Paget (1855-1926) was an English surgeon known for proposing the seed and soil theory of metastasis. ... Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancer develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. ... Diagram of the stomach, colon, and rectum Colorectal cancer includes cancerous growths in the colon, rectum and appendix. ... Stomach cancer (also called gastric cancer) can develop in any part of the stomach and may spread throughout the stomach and to other organs; particularly the esophagus and the small intestine. ... // For ovary as part of plants see ovary (plants) An ovary is an egg-producing reproductive organ found in female organisms. ... // Definition A Krukenberg tumor is the name given to tumors of the ovaries. ...

For example, breast tumor cells, which gather calcium ions from breast milk, metastasize to bone tissue, where they can gather calcium ions from bone. Malignant melanoma spreads to the brain, presumably because neural tissue and melanocytes arise from the same cell line in the embryo.[2].

Cancer cells may spread to lymph nodes (regional lymph nodes) near the primary tumor. This is called nodal involvement, positive nodes, or regional disease. Localized spread to regional lymph nodes near the primary tumor is not normally counted as metastasis, although this is a sign of worse prognosis. Lymph nodes are components of the lymphatic system. ... Lymph nodes are components of the lymphatic system. ... Prognosis (older Greek πρόγνωσις, modern Greek πρόγνωση - literally fore-knowing, foreseeing) is a medical term denoting the doctors prediction of how a patients disease will progress, and whether there is chance of recovery. ...

In addition to the above routes, metastasis may occur by direct seeding, eg. in the peritoneal cavity or pleural cavity.[1]

Factors involved

Metastasis is a complex series of steps in which cancer cells leave the original tumor site and migrate to other parts of the body via the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. To do so, malignant cells break away from the primary tumor and attach to and degrade proteins that make up the surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM), which separates the tumor from adjoining tissue. By degrading these proteins, cancer cells are able to breach the ECM and escape. When oral cancers metastasize, they commonly travel through the lymph system to the lymph nodes in the neck. In biology, extracellular matrix (ECM) is any material part of a tissue that is not part of any cell. ... Oral cancer is any cancerous tissue growth located in the mouth. ... Lymph nodes are components of the lymphatic system. ...

Cancer researchers studying the conditions necessary for cancer metastasis have discovered that one of the critical events required is the growth of a new network of blood vessels, called tumor angiogenesis.[3] Angiogenesis is the physiological process involving the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels. ...

Metastasis and primary cancer

Metastasis theoretically always coincides with a primary cancer. It is a tumor that started from a cancer cell or cells in another part of the body. However, over 10% of patients presenting to oncology units will have metastases without a primary tumor found. In these cases, doctors refer to the primary tumor as "unknown" or "occult", and the patient is said to have cancer of unknown primary origin (CUP) or Unknown Primary Tumors (UPT). It is estimated that 3% of all cancers are of unknown primary origin.[4] Studies have shown that if simple questioning does not reveal the cancer's source (coughing up blood -'probably lung', urinating blood - 'probably bladder'), complex imaging will not either.[4] In some of these cases a primary may appear later. Lung cancer is the malignant transformation and expansion of lung tissue, and is the most lethal of all cancers worldwide, responsible for 1. ... Bladder cancer refers to any of several types of malignant growths of the urinary bladder. ...

The use of immunohistochemistry has permitted pathologists to give an identity to many of these metastases. However, imaging of the indicated area only occasionally reveals a primary. In rare cases (e.g. of melanoma) no primary tumor is found even on autopsy. It is therefore thought that some primary tumors can regress completely, but leave their metastases behind. Immunohistochemistry or IHC refers to the process of localizing proteins in cells of a tissue section exploiting the principle of antibodies binding specifically to antigens in biological tissues. ... Melanoma is a malignant tumor of melanocytes which are found predominantly in skin but also in the bowel and the eye (see uveal melanoma). ...

Common sites of origin

Lung cancer is the malignant transformation and expansion of lung tissue, and is the most lethal of all cancers worldwide, responsible for 1. ... Breast cancer is cancer of breast tissue. ... Melanoma is a malignant tumor of melanocytes which are found predominantly in skin but also in the bowel and the eye (see uveal melanoma). ... Diagram of the stomach, colon, and rectum Colorectal cancer includes cancerous growths in the colon, rectum and appendix. ... Renal cell carcinoma is the most common form of kidney cancer arising from the renal tubule. ... Prostate cancer is a disease in which cancer develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. ... Pancreatic cancer is a malignant tumour within the pancreatic gland. ...

Diagnosis of primary and secondary tumors

The cells in a metastatic tumor resemble those in the primary tumor. Once the cancerous tissue is examined under a microscope to determine the cell type, a doctor can usually tell whether that type of cell is normally found in the part of the body from which the tissue sample was taken.

For instance, breast cancer cells look the same whether they are found in the breast or have spread to another part of the body. So, if a tissue sample taken from a tumor in the lung contains cells that look like breast cells, the doctor determines that the lung tumor is a secondary tumor. Still, the determination of the primary tumor can be often very difficult, and the pathologist may have to use several adjuvant techniques, such as immunohistochemistry, FISH (fluorescent in situ hybridization) and others. Despite the use of techniques, in some cases the primary tumor remains unidentified. Breast cancer is cancer of breast tissue. ... Immunohistochemistry or IHC refers to the process of localizing proteins in cells of a tissue section exploiting the principle of antibodies binding specifically to antigens in biological tissues. ... A metaphase cell positive for the bcr/abl rearrangement using FISH. The chromosomes can be seen in blue. ...

Metastatic cancers may be found at the same time as the primary tumor, or months or years later. When a second tumor is found in a patient who has been treated for cancer in the past, it is more often a metastasis than another primary tumor.

Treatments for metastatic cancer

Whether or not a cancer is local or has spread to other locations affects treatment and survival. If the cancer spreads to other tissues and organs, it may decrease a patient's likelihood of survival. However, there are some cancers (i.e., leukemia, brain) that can kill without spreading at all.

When cancer has metastasized, it may be treated with radiosurgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, biological therapy, hormone therapy, surgery, laser-immunotherapy, or a combination of these. The choice of treatment generally depends on the type of primary cancer, the size and location of the metastasis, the patient's age and general health, and the types of treatments used previously. In patients diagnosed with CUP, it is still possible to treat the disease even when the primary tumor cannot be located. Radiosurgery is a medical procedure which allows non-invasive brain surgery, i. ... Chemotherapy is the use of chemical substances to treat disease. ... Clinac 2100 C100 accelerator Radiation therapy (or radiotherapy) is the medical use of ionizing radiation as part of cancer treatment to control malignant cells (not to be confused with radiology, the use of radiation in medical imaging and diagnosis). ... Immunotherapy is a disease treatment based upon the concept of triggering the bodys own natural defenses to fight off the disease, usually by stimulating the immune system either locally or systemically. ... In medicine, hormone therapy is the use of hormones in medical treatment and covers various types of hormones including growth hormones and sex hormones. ... “Surgeon” redirects here. ...

Unfortunately, the treatment options currently available are rarely able to cure metastatic cancer, though some tumors, such as testicular cancer, are usually still curable. Testicular cancer is cancer that develops in the testicles, a part of the male reproductive system. ...


  1. ^ a b c Kumar, Abbas, Fausto; Robbins and Cotran: Pathologic Basis of Disease; Elsevier, 7th ed.
  2. ^ Robert Weinberg, The Biology of Cancer, cited in Basics: A mutinous group of cells on a greedy, destructive task, by Natalie Angier, New York Times, April 3, 2007
  3. ^ N Weidner, JP Semple, WR Welch, and J Folkman; Tumor angiogenesis and metastasis--correlation in invasive breast carcinoma; The New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 324:1-8, January 3, 1991; Number 1.
  4. ^ a b Evangelos Briasoulis, Nicholas Pavlidis; Cancer of Unknown Primary Origin; The Oncologist, Vol. 2, No. 3, 142–152, June 1997

External links

Medical information about metastatic cancer

Charities and advocacy groups dealing with metastatic cancer The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is part of the United States Federal governments National Institutes of Health. ... Childrens Hospital Boston is a hospital located in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, adjacent to Brigham and Womens Hospital and Harvard Medical School. ...

Not specifically about metastatic cancer

  Results from FactBites:
Metastasis definition - Cancer Information (Cancers, Symptoms, Treatment) on MedicineNet.com (282 words)
The process by which cancer spreads from the place at which it first arose as a primary tumor to distant locations in the body.
For example, someone with melanoma may have a metastasis in their brain.
Metastasis depends on the cancer cells acquiring two separate abilities -- increased motility and invasiveness.
Metastasis (192 words)
Cough, shortness of breath due to Lung metastasis
An effort should be made to determine the extent of every cancer and the potential sites of metastasis must be studied.
Depending on certain circumstances, treatment of metastatic disease may be accomplished by Surgery, Radiation or Chemotherapy.
  More results at FactBites »



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