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Understanding Cancer Series

  • Posted: 01/28/2005
  • Reviewed: 09/01/2006

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What Is Metastasis?

When patients are diagnosed with cancer, they want to know whether their disease is local or has spread to other locations. Cancer spreads by metastasis, the ability of cancer cells to penetrate into lymphatic and blood vessels, circulate through the bloodstream, and then invade and grow in normal tissues elsewhere.

In large measure, it is this ability to spread to other tissues and organs that makes cancer a potentially life-threatening disease, so there is great interest in understanding what makes metastasis possible for a cancerous tumor.

What Is Metastasis?