WHAT IS METASTATIC CANCER?
Tumor metastasis (from the Greek “change of place”) is the movement of tumor cells from the site where the cancer began, to grow in other sites of the body. It is a complex process that is only partially understood today at the biochemical and molecular levels. When a cancer patient wakes from surgery and asks “Has it spread?”, they are asking if the tumor has metastasized. For many cancers, surgery and radiation therapy remove or destroy the the primary tumor. It is the spread of cancer cells to other (secondary) sites and their growth in these sites that can contribute to some cancer patients’ sickness (morbidity) and deaths (mortality).