Metastatic Cancer

What You Need To Know About Metastatic Cancer

Many people do not realize that cancer can spread throughout the body from where it originates. That’s why it is such a dangerous disease. One tiny cancerous cell can rapidly multiply to form a larger tumor, and then can travel to other parts of the body like wildfire to form more cancerous cells there, destroying everything in its way. This process is called metastasis, and it is one of the biggest fears of every single person who comes in contact with the disease.

Metastatic cancer (also often called Stage IV cancer) actually looks, under a microscope, like the cancerous cells look from where they originated. So, when a tumor made of cancerous cells develops in the breast, and then travels to, for example, the lungs, those cells have the same makeup as the cells in the breast and should be treated the same. That cancer would be called metastatic breast cancer and it would not be treated as lung cancer. When a cancer returns a second time, it can be a considered a second primary cancer, but it is most likely that the first primary cancer has returned and often as a metastasized cancer.

How Does Cancer Spread?

Once an abnormal cancerous cell has formed, it can multiply rapidly and grow, spreading to nearby healthy tissue. It can also travel to nearby organs, tissue, or lymph nodes. And it can really spread to faraway parts of the body and organs. This spreading usually happens in a timeline of steps. The cancerous cells:

  • Grow into nearby normal tissue.
  • Move through the walls of nearby lymph nodes or blood vessels.
  • Travel through the lymphatic system and bloodstream to other parts of the body.
  • Invade the blood vessel walls after stopping at a distant location and then move into the surrounding tissue there.
  • Grow in this tissue until another tumor forms.
  • The new tumor causes new blood vessels to grow, which creates a blood supply that allows the tumor to keep growing.

Metastasized Cancer In Alaska

Recent statistics show that in Alaska alone, there will be almost 1.5 million* new cases of cancer this year. Like the national trend, the majority of these cancers are in the areas of the lungs, prostate, and brain, followed closely by the spine. But most of these cancerous tumors and lesions don’t actually develop in those areas.

As you can see from the chart below, just looking at these four areas of the body, the biggest percent of cancers are ones that have metastasized or traveled to that area from somewhere else in the body.

Cancer Disease Incidences in Alaska


With so many cancers metastasizing to other parts of the body, it is important that we have a way to best treat this cancer quickly and effectively. That’s where Alaska CyberKnife can help. CyberKnife can help extinguish the wildfire that is the cancer spreading to all parts of the body.

CyberKnife is a clinically proven, non-surgical radiation treatment that fights cancer in all parts of the body. In medical terms, CyberKnife is an effective technology that delivers stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) to cancer patients. The CyberKnife system combines comprehensive imaging software and capabilities with a flexible robotic arm to track the exact location of tumors and deliver high doses of radiation to kill the cancerous cells. The precision allows the healthy tissue and organs surrounding the cancer to be unharmed and reduces any potential side effects from the radiation. And it does it in only one short treatment per day for one to five days, instead of the daily treatments for up to 45 days required by conventional radiation treatments. CyberKnife can stop, or at least slow, the growth of metastasized cancer in many parts of the body.

Alaska CyberKnife is helping thousands of people in Anchorage and the surrounding areas fight the wildfire that is cancer. To find out more about CyberKnife and its benefits, give the board certified radiation oncologists at Alaska CyberKnife a call at (907)312-2112. They are happy to answer all of your questions.You can also send us your questions via email and one of our experts will get back with you within 24 hours.

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