Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body.
When Cancer spreads it’s called Secondary or METASTASIS. In metastasis, cancer cells break away from where they first formed, travel through the blood or lymph system and form a new tumour in other parts of the body. But it commonly moves into one’s bones, liver or lungs, or the brain.
When cells divide, first, one cell divides into 2 identical cells, then these 2 cells divide into 4 and this continues. In adults, to replace old and damaged cells these cells divide only when the body needs them.
There are three ways tumours can spread to distant organs:
1] Through the circulatory [blood] system [hematogenous].
2] Through the lymphatic system.
3] Through the body wall into the abdominal and chest cavities [transcoelomic].
The time taken for cancer cells to spread:
In the case of breast and bowel cancers, the tumours before they are detected, it takes ten years. For prostate cancer, tumours can be many decades old.
Common sites of Metastatic Disease:
|TYPE OF CANCER||COMMON SITES OF METASTASIS|
|Bladder||Bone, liver, lung|
|Breast||Bone, Brain, Liver, Lung|
|Colorectal||Liver, Lung, Peritoneum|
|Kidney||Adrenal Gland, Bone, Brain, Liver, Lung|
|Lung||Adrenal gland, bone, brain, liver and lung.|
|Ovary||Liver, Lung, Peritoneum.|
|Pancreas||Liver, Lung, Peritoneum.|
|Prostate||Adrenal gland, bone, liver, lung.|
|Stomach||Lung, Liver, Peritoneum.|
|Thyroid||Bone, Liver, Lung.|
|Uterus||Bone, Liver, Lung, Peritoneum, Vagina.|
Can one feel if cancer is spreading?
If cancer is spreading [metastasized], signs or symptoms may appear in different parts of the body. It begins to push the nearby organs; like the blood vessels and nerves. You may also have symptoms like fever, extreme tiredness and weight loss. If the cancer is in the brain, the smallest growth of a tumour can cause symptoms.
Cancer of the pancreas does not show any symptoms until the cells grow large enough and press the nearby nerves or organs and cause pain in the belly or back. Sometimes they grow around the bile duct and block the flow of bile and cause the eyes and skin to look yellow [jaundice]. Some cancers of pancreas release substances and cause blood clots in veins of the legs. Some lung cancers make hormone-like substances that raise blood calcium levels. This can affect the nerves and muscles, and the person feels weak and dizzy.
Cancers that spread the fastest, according to Dr Oz, are Pancreatic Cancer and Liver Cancer, apart from the cancers of the brain, oesophageal and skin.
Pancreatic Cancer is the deadliest. The pancreas is hidden deep in the back of the abdomen. So it is difficult to locate and by the time it is detected, cancer would have spread beyond the initial site and becomes very difficult to treat.
Risk Factors of Pancreatic Cancer:
1] Inherited cancers are: Pancreatic, Breast, Colon or Ovarian Cancers, as family members have a history of it, so the risk factor is more, as these are inherited.
2] Chronic alcohol consumption more than one drink a day for women and more than two drinks a day for men is a risk. People who drink soft drinks two or more per week are also a risk.
3] If a person is a diabetic abnormal growth of insulin leads to abnormal cell growth. As the glucose remains in the blood, it may cause damage to the cell. So, there is a high risk of pancreatic cancer.
1] Reduce fatty red meats and processed meats.
2] Eat red and yellow vegetables.
3] Intake of Curcumin substances like turmeric, curcumin.
Liver Cancer is the scariest cancer of the five. In most patients, the symptoms are seen only in the last stages. Fatigue, anaemia, loss of appetite, vomiting and Jaundice are the symptoms.
There are a few risk factors one should be careful to keep free from cancer:
1) Obesity, fatty tissue around the abdomen.
Solutions: Stop consuming added sugar, Hepatitis B Vaccine.
Place where Cancer spreads first:
The most common organ where cancer spreads are the lungs. As the blood from most parts of the body flows back to the heart and then to the lungs, during this Cancer cells that have already entered the bloodstream get stuck in the small blood vessels [capillaries] of the lungs. Through the wall of the capillaries, the cell multiplies and forms a new tumour. Sometimes the white blood cells kill a few cancer cells.
Spread through the lymphatic system: The lymphatic system is a network of tubes and glands in the body that filters body fluid and fights infection. Some of the cancer cells spread into the small lymph vessels and form tumours, called lymph node spread.
Ways to stop Cancer from spreading:
 Stop tobacco [smoking and chewing]
 Eat a healthy diet.
 Exercise regularly and check your weight.
 Protect yourself from the sun.
 Get vaccinated
 Get a regular medical check up.
 Limit alcohol intake.
Cancers are named according to their place of development. No matter where in the body the cancer cells spread, the cancer is named on the place it originated. For example, bowel cancer that has spread in the liver is called bowel cancer. Prostate cancer that has spread to the liver is still known as prostate cancer.
In the process of spreading the cancer cells die at some point. Some of them form new tumours in other parts of the body. Metastatic cancer cells can remain inactive for many years before they begin to grow again.
Treatment for Metastatic Cancer:
Once cancer spreads, it is difficult to control. Some of the metastatic cancer can be cured with current treatments. Sometimes the treatment can stop or slow the growth of cancer. In some cases, the treatment can help to prolong life.
The treatment depends on certain factors, like the type of primary cancer, the places that it has spread, treatment taken in the past and one’s general health. The treatment can also include—Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, Targeted treatment, Hormone therapy.
Awareness of the spread of cancer cells:
Metastasis is the leading reason for the death of many patients earlier. Now, there is remarkable progress in understanding the reasons for the spread of cancer cells. Throughout the year there are many campaigns on cancer awareness. If there are no events in the area, one can organise. Creating cancer awareness has had a positive impact on people across the nation and around the world.