Cancer is a disease that affects millions of people and families each year. With estimated diagnoses surpassing 1.5 million for 2018, this disease has a great potential to affect someone you know and love. Because of this, it is important to familiarize yourself with the medical terminology used to describe it. With the potential to occur from all types of cancer, metastasis is a term that is often used when diagnosing cancer. To help you get a better understanding of metastatic cancer, here are some things you should know.
What is Metastatic Cancer?
Metastasis, or “stage 4,” is the medical term used to describe cancer that has spread from one part of the body to another. Originating in one part of the body, metastatic cancer cells break off from the primary tumor and travel through the bloodstream or lymph system to other organs. The formation of these new tumors is titled metastatic. Although spreading to other organs, these abnormal masses are the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. When observed under a microscope, metastatic cancer cells have features of primary cancer and not like the cells in the place where the cancer is found. For example, if a person is diagnosed with lung cancer, any cancer cells that spread to other organs are still technically lung cancer. Metastasized tumors found on other organs are treated differently than if cancer had originated in that area.
How Is Metastatic Cancer Treated?
Once cancer spreads, it can be hard to control. Although some types of metastatic cancer can be cured with treatment, most cannot. Treatment of metastatic cancer varies depending on the origin of primary cancer, as it plays a role in how secondary tumors are treated. Other variables that affect treatment include the size and location of the metastasis.
Typically, metastatic cancer requires systemic therapy, medications given by mouth, or injected into the bloodstream to reach cancer cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted drugs, and immunotherapy are some of the more common types of systemic therapy. Other treatments may include radiation, biological therapy, surgery, or any combination of the bunch. The goal of these treatments is to stop or slow the growth of cancer and relieve symptoms caused by it.
Are Certain Cancers More Prone to Metastasis?
Common areas affected by metastasis are the bones, brain, liver, lymph nodes, and lungs. While metastasis can occur in any part of the body, some cancers tend to spread in certain areas more often than others. For example, colon and rectal cancers are prone to the liver and lungs. Additionally, both lung and breast cancer can also metastasize to adrenal glands and the chest wall. Tumors in these areas occur when a piece of the original tumor breaks off and burrows into the surrounding tissue.
Signs of Metastatic Cancer
While it is hard to distinguish and specify all the signs of metastatic cancer, some common signs of metastasis are as followed. Cancer that spreads to the kidney typically results in symptoms including blood in the urine, pain on one side of the lower back, lump(s) in the back or side, fatigue, weight loss, fever and swelling of the ankles. Symptoms of metastasized cancer in the bladder can range from increased urination, pain, burning, or blood during urination. While these symptoms commonly lead to a diagnosis of bladder cancer or possibly prostate cancer, experiencing one or multiple is not unnatural.
Prostate Cancer Treatment in Livingston, New Jersey
Experiencing these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have metastatic cancer; metastatic tumors can only be diagnosed through a physical examination conducted by a certified professional. If you or someone you know is suffering from any range of urological cancers such as kidney cancer, or testicular cancer, do not hesitate to contact board-certified urologist Dr. Ron Israeli. Specializing in the latest cancer treatments and services, Dr. Israeli can help you have the best chance of beating this life-threatening disease. Cancer treatment is most effective when detected early, so do not hesitate to schedule your consultation to learn more.