Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer from one organ or part of the body to another organ or part of the body. When cancer metastasizes, the cancer cells break away from the original cancerous tumor, known as primary tumor, enter the blood stream or lymphatic system and then attack other parts of the body.
As a result new cancerous tumor forms and this tumor is known as metastatic tumor and the cells of a metastatic tumor come from the primary tumor.
Cancerous cells can spread to nearly any part of the body; but the most often spread to the lymph nodes near the primary tumor. However, when cancerous cells spread to other organs or lymph nodes far from the primary tumor, the cancer is known as metastatic disease.
The most common organs to get metastatic disease are the lungs, brain, bones and liver. On the other hand, some cancers have a tendency to spread to only spread parts of the body. For instance, lung cancer usually metastasizes to the brain or bone; colon cancer usually spreads to the liver; prostate cancer to the bones; breast cancer to the bones, lungs, liver or brain.When it comes to life expectancy for metastatic disease, prognosis depends on the location of the primary tumor, how much it has metastasized, the general health of the patient, the patient's ability to withstand further treatment. Usually metastatic disease is incurable and life expectancy of the patient could be anywhere from few weeks to few months to few years, depending on all the conditions listed above.
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