Metastasis: The Spread and Treatment for Cancer
Cancer is the dangerous disease that can lead to a death. Though cancer can be cured using special treatment, the cell can grow again inside human body. To describe the spread of cancer to different part of body from the place it starts, Metastasis is used as the medical term. When the condition happens, metastasized will be said by doctor. Other names of this term are “stage 4 cancer” and also “metastatic cancer” and sometimes, people know it as “advanced cancer”.
What is Metastasis?
The medical term of Metastasis is used to describe the spread of cancer near the tissues or perhaps lymph nodes but not to entire body. This stage develops commonly when cancer cells will break away from main tumor and it enters the lymphatic system or bloodstream. The systems may carry fluids throughout the body. It means, the cancer cells can go far from becoming tumor and those form new tumors when they grow and settle in different parts of body. Metastases are the plural form of that term.
They can develop sometimes when cancer cells found in main tumor such as in abdominal cavity or belly break off and seed another area in abdominal cavity or in the same part. Any cancer type can metastasize or spread whether it happens depending on some factors or not. The factors may include:
- The cancer type
- How fast the cancer grows or how aggresive the cancer cell is
- How long patient experience or have the cancer before getting treatment
- Other potential factors
The spread to the lungs, lymph nodes, liver, brain and bones is common. Cancer cells can spread to the lining part around the lungs or known as pleural space and also abdominal cavity. It will cause the excess fluid which builds up in the areas or known as malignant ascites and malignant pleural effusions. The multiple metastases in multiple amount found in abdominal cavity are called as peritoneal carcinomatosis. However, cancer can spread also to muscle, skin and other organs in entire body.
The Metastasis Spread in Certain Part of Body
The spread of cancer can be found in some parts of the body such as:
- Rectal and colon cancers will spread to lungs and liver
- Prostate cancer can spread to bones
- Lung cancer will spread to adrenal glands, liver, bones and brain
- Breast cancer can spread to brain, chest wall, lungs, liver and bones
Cancer cells can spread in entire body with some steps such as:
- The cells will grow to the near normal tissue
- The cells will move through walls or near lymph nodes or perhaps blood vessels
- The cells will travel through the system of lymph and bloodstream to other body parts
- The cells may stop in small blood vessels at certain location and invade the blood vessel walls. After that, they move to around tissue
- The cells grow in the tissue until the small tumor will form
- The cells will cause new blood vessels growing and it creates the blood supply which allows tumor to keep growing
Mostly, the cancer cells will spread at some points through the process but some of them may form new tumors as long as the condition is supporting and favorable inside the certain part of body. The cancer cells may be inactive at short site for years before the cells will begin to grow again. The metastatic cancer sometimes doesn’t show the symptoms and signs at all. When the symptoms occur, the frequency and nature depend on location and size of the tumors.
The symptoms that will occur due to the growing cancers are:
- Swelling in belly or jaundice but it will happen if the cancer spreads to liver
- Breath shortness if the cancer spread to lung
- Dizziness, seizures and headache if the cancer spreads to brain
- Fractures and pain if the cancer spreads to bone
Treatment for Metastasis and End-of-Life Care
Treatment is needed for all cancer as soon as possible because once the cancer spreads fully, it is so hard for best medical treatment to control it. Though some metastatic cancer can be healed with treatments nowadays, most can’t. However, there are some treatments for those who have this cancer. The purpose of the treatment is of course to slow and stop the cancer growth or relieve and reduce the symptoms caused by the cancer. In certain case, the treatments can help to prolong the life.
The treatment patients will get depending on the primary type of cancer, where the cancer spreads and the treatments people had from the past. Finally, the general health is important too. Mostly, cancer can’t be controlled including this type. If the cancer can’t be controlled or healed anymore, sometimes people will discuss about the end-of-life care. However, the patients still get the treatment to shrink the Metastasis and also control the growth. It may also control the side effects of pain.
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