Medical Questions » Cancer Questions » Question No. 189
Question:Where does cancer spread to when you have a secondary cancer? I have had cancer in the breast, and I have been told that surgery has been successful and I have no secondaries, but I would like to watch out for any problems.
Answer:The liver, lymph nodes, and bones are the most common areas involved in the spread of cancer, but cancer can spread almost anywhere in the body from its original site. The type of cancer will also determine where it may spread, as some types of cancer cells appear to spread more easily to one part of the body than another. The lymph nodes are responsible for dealing with waste products and infection, and there are direct channels from them to every part of the body. Cancer cells can spread very easily along these channels, and so with most cancers, the nearest group of lymph nodes is often surgically removed, irradiated or treated with cancer-killing drugs. The liver is responsible for processing the blood to remove abnormal and dying cells, waste products and toxins. This too can therefore be easily affected by cancer cells. Bone marrow is responsible for producing many of the infection- and cancer-fighting cells in the body, and may itself be infiltrated by cancer cells that destroy its correct function. Secondary cancer is certainly harder to treat than primary, but it is not an inevitable death sentence because modern anti-cancer drugs, the new radiation techniques available and delicate surgery can still remove and control many of these growths.
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