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Metastasis is the movement or spreading of cancer cells from one organ or tissue to another. Cancer cells usually spread through the blood or the lymph system.

If a cancer spreads, it is said to have "metastasized."


Whether or not cancer cells spread to other parts of the body depends on many things, including:

  • The type of cancer
  • The stage of the cancer
  • Original location of the cancer

Treatment depends on the type of cancer and where it has spread.

Alternative Names

Metastatic cancer; Cancer metastases


Perry MC. Approach to the patient with cancer. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds.Goldman's Cecil Medicine

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Update Date 11/9/2014