Metastatic Cancer vs. Advanced Cancer

Metastatic cancer refers to a cancer that has spread from the original tumor site to a distant part or parts of the body. Metastatic cancer spreads the original cancer cells found in the primary tumor, and creates new tumors elsewhere in the body. Cancer can become metastatic via the bloodstream and lymph nodes. Infected cancer cells may enter the bloodstream and use it to travel throughout the body. Although most cancer cells in the bloodstream are harmless, some of the cells can attach themselves in other areas of the body and begin to grow. Lymph nodes that are in close proximity to the original tumor often become metastatic.

Metastatic cancer is commonly found in the liver, brain and bones. If caught early enough, it can be treated effectively before it destroys these vital organs. Certain cancers frequently metastasize in predictable areas, such as breast cancer, which often spreads to the lungs, or colon cancer, which may spread to the liver. This predictability makes it easier to identify tumors found in various parts of the body, and allows physicians to maintain a watchful eye on possible trouble zones. One of the most effective ways used to diagnose such metastatic cancers is through use of an X-ray. Once multiple tumors have been found, the cells can be examined to determine which tumor is the primary or main tumor, and which tumors are secondary.

The greatest risk associated with metastatic cancer occurs when tumors develop in vitally important areas in addition to the original location of the cancer. A patient may be unaware of an existing cancer if it does not affect them greatly. The cancer may become metastatic, however, and travel to a more vital area of the body. In these cases, tumors develop, and the patient will then feel the effects associated with cancer in the new area. Since metastatic cancer often occurs in the brain and bones, patients may suffer the effects of brain tumors, such as seizures, delirium or headaches, or pain if the cancer spreads to their bones and causes deterioration and deformation of their spine.

Advanced cancer occurs when the cancer spreads beyond the original organ infected and has developed to a point where a cure or long-term remission is highly unlikely. It differs from metastatic cancer in that a cancer is called metastatic cancer even if it has only spread in small amounts. Such cancer can often be treated successfully if caught in the early stages, before it has spread too far and done too much damage. Metastatic cancer is considered advanced cancer if it has spread to several locations or done a lot of harm.

Once malignant mesothelioma has reached the advanced stage, most treatment focuses on reducing the pain and damage of the cancer. Advanced cancer does not necessarily mean a patient has only a short time to live; an advanced cancer patient may live for prolonged periods of time with advanced cancer through chemotherapy, radiation or any combination of treatments.

Related: Mesothelioma Powerpoint

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