The Grapevine

Metastasis: The 3 Most Common Ways Cancer Spreads Through The Body

Metastasis
Once a cancerous tumor has grown in one area of the body, it travels to other organs. This process is known as metastasis. YouTube/Screenshot

It’s hard to imagine anyone presented with a cancer diagnosis taking it lightly. Cancer can affect pretty much any part of the body — there’s basically no such thing as heart cancer — and in many instances, especially if it’s at an advanced stage, it’s deadly. According to estimates from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, there were 12.7 million new cases of cancer around the world in 2008, and 7.6 million deaths.

Among those who died, many probably had an advanced stage, which often means the tumor had a chance to spread from the area in which it first grew to another part of the body. This process is known as metastasis, and it’s spoken about in detail in the Ted Ed video below, therefore we’ll skip the details here. But it’s because of metastasis that checking yourself, whether at home or at the doctor’s office, is important.

November, also called Movember, is a month dedicated to raising awareness of men’s health issues like prostate and testicular cancer. Getting tested for prostate cancer is the best way to catch it before it metastasizes to other parts of the body. And when it comes to testicular cancer, at-home monitoring is easy. Breast cancer is also easily detectable with a self-exam. Luckily, more people are catching signs of a tumor earlier, and medical science is also making advances in stopping metastasis. When you put those two together, cancer survivorship will not only increase, but an end to cancer deaths will be imminent. How long that will take, however, is another issue. 

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