Metastasis is a term used to describe cancer spread within the body. Cancer cells, unlike normal body cells, have the unique ability to migrate and grow outside their site of origin. When this happens, it is called metastatic cancer or sometimes stage 4 cancer. They are cancer cells that break off from primary cancer, migrate through the body, and begin to grow in other tissues and organs.
They bear the name and features of the primary cancer when viewed under the microscope or tested in other ways. For example, colon cancer that spreads to the lung is called metastatic colon cancer and not lung cancer. When the origin of metastasis can not be determined, it is called cancer of an unknown primary source.
How Do Cancers Metastasize?
Almost all cancer tend to metastasize by:
- Growing directly into the tissues surrounding the tumour.
- Traveling through the bloodstream to distant parts of the body.
- Traveling through the lymphatic system to nearby or distant lymph nodes.
The most likely destination of metastatic cancers includes the lungs, liver, bones, and brain.
Symptoms of Metastatic Cancer
- Brain metastasis causes impairment of the functions of the brain leading to headache, dizziness, stroke, and visual and speech problems.
- Bone metastasis symptoms include bone breakage after no or minor injury, severe back pain accompanied by limb numbness and difficulty in bladder control.
- Lung metastasis symptoms may include warning signs such as coughing blood, chest pain and difficulty breathing.
- Liver metastasis symptoms include weight loss, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), pain and fluid build-up in the abdomen.
How Metastatic Cancer Can be Diagnosed
- Routine blood tests
- Tumour marker levels
- Imaging such as ultrasound, Computed Tomography (CT) scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan, bone scan
Treatment and Management of Metastatic Cancer
The goal of treatment is to stop or slow down its growth.—other treatments aim to improve the quality of life by relieving symptoms and side effects of treatments.
Treatment depends on the following factors:
- Primary cancer and its origin.
- How far cancer has spread and where it is located.
- How fast the cancer is spreading.
- General health and state of the immune system.
- Preferred and recommended treatments.
For patients currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, parallel therapy is offered at the German Integrative Cancer Center which aims at improving chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment outcomes, while reducing the side effects on organs and immune system.
For patients seeking alternative cancer treatments aside chemotherapy and radiotherapy, we offer integrative cancer therapy which protects the integrity of organs and immune system, with a gentle alternative approach. One of these is Curcumin which can be used for treatment of many metastatic cancers; by reducing development, arresting the migration of cancer cells while strengthening immunity.
The likelihood of cancer metastasis is reduced by early detection of cancer. When detected early, contact us at the German Integrative Cancer Center for world-class integrative and alternative therapy and care.
Metastatic cancer survival rate
Cancer metastasis accounts for about 90% of cancer deaths, despite the advancement in cancer treatment. Cancer survival rate has improved over the years, largely due to early diagnosis and cancer growth inhibition. However, limited progress has been made so far in metastatic cancer treatment using chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
The five-year survival rate of metastatic cancer depends on how far the cancer has metastasised and the type of cancer. 7% of patients diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer are alive after 5 years. 28% of women and 22% of men diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer are alive after 5 years. 14% of patients diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer are alive after five years.
Coping With Metastatic Cancer
Having metastatic cancer can be challenging to cope with. However, you are not alone in this journey. German Integrative Cancer Center specialises in metastatic cancer. If you have been diagnosed, we offer help, even if classical options are not suitable anymore.