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Metastasis

  • What is Metastasis?

    Metastasis is cancer that has spread from a primary tumour to other parts of the body. Cancer cells can break away from a tumour and travel to other areas of the body through the bloodstream or the lymph system (part of the immune system). The most common bone tumours are bone metastases, which are secondary to a primary cancer somewhere else in the body.

  • Some people with metastatic tumours do not have symptoms. When symptoms occur, the type and intensity depend on the size and location of the metastasis, ie. cancer that spreads to the bone is likely to cause pain and lead to bone fractures.

  • The treatment of metastasis depends on several factors:

    • Size, location and number of metastatic tumours
    • Type of primary cancer
    • History of past treatment
    • Age and general health

    Metastatic cancer may be treated with a combination of local and systemic therapies:

    • Local therapy – targets tumour cells and a nearby area, eg. surgery and radiation therapy
    • Systemic therapy – affects the whole body to tackle tumour cells wherever their location, eg. chemotherapy, biological therapy, targeted therapy and hormonal therapy

    The goal of treatment is to ease the symptoms and control the growth of the cancer. In some, treatment may help prolong lifespan.

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