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Metastasis

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."

Information

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.

Alternative Names

Metastatic cancer; Cancer metastases

References

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 Saunders; 2014:chap 3.

Sanford DE, Goedegebuure SP, Eberlein TJ. Tumor biology and tumor markers. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 28.

Review Date 10/12/2018

Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.