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What Happens When Cancer Metastasizes?

What Happens When Cancer Metastasizes?

Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer from a place of origin to different parts of the body. Metastatic cancer is also commonly known as advanced cancer. It is also sometimes referred to as stage 4 cancer.

Cancer cells can travel into other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymph system when they break free from a tumor.

Almost all types of cancer can spread. Usually, metastases are caused by cancer cells breaking off from the primary tumor found in the belly or abdominal cavity. These metastatic cancer cells then travel to other nearby parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, or bones.

Metastatic cancer is called the same name as the original cancer regardless of where it has spread. For instance, thyroid cancer that spreads to the lymph nodes is called metastatic thyroid cancer, not lymphatic cancer since the cancer originated in the thyroid.

This progression of cancer is deadly and there’s no telling how long can you live with metastatic cancer.

How Do Cancer Cells Metastasize?

 how long can you live with metastatic cancer

Most tumors don’t metastasize and remain within the normal limits of the tissue. Cancerous tumors, however, may become able to breach these barriers and overwhelm nearby tissues as they grow and become malignant.

During the first stages of metastasis, tumor cells begin to become mobile. When a metastatic cell gains mobility, it breaks through layers of tough cells and molecules until it reaches a blood vessel or a lymph node.

When cancer cells make it to the blood vessels, they enter the boundaries between the blood vessels and squeeze through these tight junctions.

During this stage, cells that are cancerous pass via the bloodstream or lymphatic system and spread elsewhere in the body. These cancer cells eventually multiply and lay foundations for a second tumor.

Once this happens, it becomes even more difficult for doctors to estimate how long you can live with metastatic cancer.

Not all cancer cells are capable of metastasizing. For cancer cells to spread, the cells must possess the ability to enter and exit the blood vessels and pass through the normal barriers of the body.

Is There Treatment For Metastatic Cancer?

Metastatic cancer is treatable. Treatment for metastatic cancer involves halting or reducing the growth of the old tumor and preventing the growth of new tumors. These treatments come in the form of drugs, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Palliative care, to alleviate pain and boost quality of life, is also an option.

Palliative treatments can control many types of cancer for years allowing the patient to live life longer but there’s still no definite answer as to how long can you live with metastatic cancer. If patients continue to take certain drugs, they can keep tumors at bay for a long time, but eventually, resistance may develop.

Treatment options depend on the type of cancer you have, the extent of its spread, treatments you’ve had in the past, and your health overall.

Is It Possible To Prevent Metastatic Cancer?

Several ongoing studies aim to understand exactly how metastasis works and what can be done to prevent it.

For now, the best solution to preventing metastatic cancer is early detection and early treatment.

As cancer progresses, the cancer cells develop an ability to move to nearby tissues. When this happens, cancer treatment and detection of new cancer growth becomes complicated. In addition, knowing how long can you live with metastatic cancer becomes difficult.

You can’t guarantee that once you have completed cancer treatment that it won’t return.

Cancer metastasizes, so even though cancer cells cannot be seen or found today in any test, there’s always the possibility that there are still some cancer cells left in the body. It is also possible for these cancer cells to grow again over time.

How Long Can You Live With Metastatic Cancer?

How long can you live with metastatic cancer? The answer differs depending on what type of cancer you have, what treatment you are receiving, your overall health, and sometimes your age.

Cancer that has spread to lymph nodes or the brain, for example, can be fatal and doctors typically estimate that a patient has weeks or a few months left to live. There are also metastatic cancers that have the potential to last several months to several years with proper treatment.

Whether or not your body can still handle the treatment and deal with metastatic cancer also influences how long can you live with metastatic cancer.

Key Takeaways

Metastatic cancer is a progression of cancer wherein tumor cells travel to other parts of the body. When cancer cells move to other parts of the body, they divide and multiply there causing another malignant tumor. Treatment is available for metastatic cancer. However, treatment does not guarantee remission or prolonged life, but it is still worth a try. Palliative care can help alleviate symptoms and pain.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


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Written by Hazel Caingcoy Updated 3 days ago
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel