Metastatic Lymphoma

Metastatic cancer is a cancer which has spread from its original location to a new organ in the body. This is not uncommon, and most forms of cancer can metastasiseand this happens through a series of steps, which will be described below. Lymphoma is no exception, and it has been known to cause tumour growth in other parts of the body than that which was originally affected; most common is that it will grow from affecting one particular lymph node, for example in the neck, to one located elsewhere, such as in the armpit or groin. Lymphoma may also metastasise and affect other areas of lymphatic tissue, such as that lining your intestines.

How does Cancer Metastasise?

As was briefly mentioned above, cancermetastasises in through a series of steps. The process will often begin through what is known as ‘local invasion’, where the cancer cells invade normal tissue nearby their current stronghold. The local invasion can then be followed by ‘intravasation’, which is where the cells attack close-by blood vessels, which allows them to enter lymphatic system and bloodstream, thus circulating to other parts of the body. Once they have reached a new location, the cancer seizes its circulation and begins attacking nearby tissue – this is called extravasation – after which the cells form new tumours in the new location (a process called proliferation) and in a final step this is followed by angiogenesis, where the growth of new blood vessels is stimulated so as to increase the blood supply for the new tumour, which allows it to grow further.

Does Metastasis Lead to New Forms of Cancer?

The short answer is no, it does not. Any form of cancer metastasis leads to the same form of cancer but in a different location; in other words, lung cancer that causes tumour growth in the breast does not give you breast cancer, but lung cancer in the breast. Likewise, the spread of lymphoma from one part of the body to another does not mean that you have two forms of lymphoma, rather it means that you have a metastatic form of your primary lymphoma.

Treatment of Metastatic Lymphoma

Should your lymphoma become metastatic and move to other parts of your body, this does not necessarily mean that drastic changes will have to be made to your current treatment method. The metastatic tumour will not, as mentioned, be a different form of cancer; as such it will react to the same treatment in the same way, all things remaining equal, however your doctor may suggest an increased dosage or an extended number of treatments. However, metastasis may also be a sign that your currently prescribed treatment is not having the wished-for effect, and as such they may suggest that new treatments are used either instead of or in combination with your current chemotherapy. This could include radio therapy, which can be a highly effective treatment, however it is generally used sparingly as it can increase the risk of developing secondary cancers later in life.

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