Metastases

When cancer cells stop acting like cancer

Cancer cells crowded tightly together suddenly surrender their desire to spread, and this change of heart is related to a cellular pathway that controls organ size. These two stunning observations are reported ...

Mar 16, 2015
popularity 117 comments 2

Team finds new route for ovarian cancer spread

Circulating tumor cells spread ovarian cancer through the bloodstream, homing in on a sheath of abdominal fatty tissue where it can grow and metastasize to other organs, scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer ...

Jul 14, 2014
popularity 0 comments 0

Metastasis, or metastatic disease (sometimes abbreviated mets), is the spread of a disease from one organ or part to another non-adjacent organ or part. It was previously thought that only malignant tumor cells and infections have the capacity to metastasize; however, this is being reconsidered due to new research. The word metastasis means "displacement" in Greek, from μετά, meta, "next", and στάσις, stasis, "placement". The plural is metastases.

Cancer occurs after a single cell in a tissue is progressively genetically damaged to produce a cancer stem cell possessing a malignant phenotype. These cancer stem cells are able to undergo uncontrolled abnormal mitosis, which serves to increase the total number of cancer cells at that location. When the area of cancer cells at the originating site becomes clinically detectable, it is called a primary tumor. Some cancer cells also acquire the ability to penetrate and infiltrate surrounding normal tissues in the local area, forming a new tumor. The newly formed "daughter" tumor in the adjacent site within the tissue is called a local metastasis.

Some cancer cells acquire the ability to penetrate the walls of lymphatic and/or blood vessels, after which they are able to circulate through the bloodstream (circulating tumor cells) to other sites and tissues in the body. This process is known (respectively) as lymphatic or hematogeneous spread.

After the tumor cells come to rest at another site, they re-penetrate through the vessel or walls, continue to multiply, and eventually another clinically detectable tumor is formed. This new tumor is known as a metastatic (or secondary) tumor. Metastasis is one of three hallmarks of malignancy (contrast benign tumors). Most tumors and other neoplasms can metastasize, although in varying degrees (e.g. basal cell carcinoma) rarely metastasize.

When tumor cells metastasize, the new tumor is called a secondary or metastatic tumor, and its cells are like those in the original tumor. This means, for example, that, if breast cancer metastasizes to the lungs, the secondary tumor is made up of abnormal breast cells, not of abnormal lung cells. The tumor in the lung is then called metastatic breast cancer, not lung cancer.

This text uses material from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA

Latest Spotlight News

Cannabis use can be prevented, reduced or delayed

Responding to rapidly shifting legal and cultural environments, researchers at the University of Montreal and CHU Sainte-Justine Children's Hospital have found a way to prevent, reduce or delay cannabis use ...

The coming merge of human and machine intelligence

For most of the past two million years, the human brain has been growing steadily. But something has recently changed. In a surprising reversal, human brains have actually been shrinking for the last 20,000 ...