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n. the spread of a malignant tumour from its site of origin. This occurs by three main routes: (1) through the bloodstream (haematogenous); (2) through the lymphatic system; (3) across body cavities, e.g. through the peritoneum (see transcoelomic spread). Highly malignant tumours have a greater potential for metastasis. Individual tumours may spread by one or all of the above routes, although *carcinoma is said classically to metastasize via the lymphatics and *sarcoma via the bloodstream. —metastatic adj.
The spread of cancer cells through the blood, lymphatics or directly and establishment of these newgroups of cells at locations distant from the original cancer.
Metastasis, and metastatic, are terms applied to the process by which malignant disease spreads to distant parts of the body, and also to the secondary tumours resulting from this process. For example, a cancer of the breast may produce metastatic growths in the glands of the armpit; cancer of the stomach may be followed by metastases in the liver. Metastases are colloquially known as secondaries and their spread occurs through the bloodstream, lymphatic system and across the body cavities. Highly malignant tumours – for example, melanomas – are especially prone to spread far and fast. (See CANCER.)
A secondary cancerous tumour (one that has spread from a primary cancer to another part of the body). The term also applies to the process by which such spread occurs. Metastases can spread through the lymphatic system, in the bloodstream, or across a body cavity.