Metastasis is the movement or spreading of cancer cells from one organ or tissue to another. Cancer cells usually spread through the blood or the lymph system.
If a cancer spreads, it is said to have "metastasized."
Whether or not cancer cells spread to other parts of the body depends on many things, including:
- The type of cancer
- The stage of the cancer
- Original location of the cancer
Treatment depends on the type of cancer and where it has spread.
Metastatic cancer; Cancer metastases
Doroshow JH. Approach to the patient with cancer. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 179.
Rankin EB. Erler J. Giaccia AJ. The cellular microenvironment and metastases. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2016:chap 3.
Review Date 11/12/2016
Updated by: Jennifer K. Mannheim, ARNP, Medical Staff, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.