Thursday, May 17, 2018 by Janine Acero
Metastasis is the spread of cancer from the place where it started (primary site) to other places in the body, often by way of the lymph system or bloodstream.
Tumors formed from cells that have spread are called secondary tumors. The cancer may have spread to areas near the primary site, called regional metastasis, or to parts of the body that are farther away, called distant metastasis.
Cancers that have spread are often considered advanced when they can’t be controlled with treatment. However, not all advanced cancers have spread to other parts of the body. Some cancers may be considered advanced because of their large size or proximity to important organs or blood vessels. This can make them life-threatening even though they haven’t spread to other parts of the body. In the same way, not all metastatic cancers are advanced cancers. Testicular cancer, for instance, can spread to other parts of the body and can still be controlled with treatment.
Known symptoms of metastatic cancer
Metastasis occurs when cancer cells invade nearby healthy tissues through these six methods:
- Angiogenesis – in which cancer cells reproduce into micrometastases (small tumors) to stimulate the development of fresh blood vessels and latch onto the blood supply.
- Arrest and extravasation – cancer cells lodge in the capillary walls and penetrate surrounding tissues.
- Circulation – via the lymphatic system and the bloodstream.
- Intravasation – cancer cells penetrate the walls of nearby lymph vessels or blood vessels.
- Local invasion – cancer cells penetrate neighboring healthy tissues.
- Proliferation – where cancer cells reproduce and form micrometastases in remote tissues.
Nearly all types of cancers can develop into metastatic tumors.
Body systems harmed by metastatic cancer
Metastatic cancers can lead to serious complications such as:
- Back pain
- Bone pain
- Brain failure
- Cachexia (weakness and wasting away of the body)
- Hypercalcemia (high calcium level in the blood)
- Pathological fracture
- Reduced production of red blood cells
Food items or nutrients that may prevent metastatic cancer
The following nutrients help prevent cancer metastasis:
- Apigenin – This flavonoid inhibits the invasion of cancer cells to new tissue and the growth of tumors. It has been used extensively to maintain the health of the stomach, kidneys, liver, and blood. Apigenin is found in many fruits and vegetables like parsley, grapefruit, onions, and oranges. It is also found in plant-based beverages including chamomile tea.
- Curcumin – Curcumin inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells and metastasis associated with cancers like breast, uterine, ovarian, kidney, bladder, renal, brain, leukemia, colorectal, liver, pancreatic, lung, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- EGCG – EGCG is a polyphenolic compound that is commonly found in green tea. EGCG is believed to suppress tumor growth associated with several tissues in the body such as the prostate, bladder, intestines, liver, pancreas, lungs, and oral cavity.
- Luteolin – Luteolin has antioxidant effects that protect the lungs, liver, and heart tissue from inflammation and protect against the degenerative effects of cancerous activity. It is found in chamomile tea, celery, and green peppers.
- Quercetin – Quercetin suppresses cancer cell proliferation, reduces oxidative damage, and inhibits the activity of a mutant gene associated with tumor growth known as P53. It is found in foods like apples, blackberries, black and green tea, capers, cocoa powder, dark cherries, raspberries, onions, kale, sage and parsley.
- Sulforaphane – Sulforaphane inhibits the activation of cancer cells. It prevents metastasis of cancers associated with the spleen, colon, prostate, stomach, and breast. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale are high in sulforaphane.
- Ursolic acid – An increase in dietary ursolic acid is associated with the treatment of cancer pertaining to the pancreas, cervix, lung, colon, skin, and breast. This plant oil and phytonutrient is found in herbs like holy basil and oregano, apple skins, and bilberries.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D intake inhibits metastasis and the growth and development of tumors associated with prostate cancer, colorectal, breast cancer, and melanoma. Ample exposure to sunlight and/or consuming wild-caught salmon, organic and pastured eggs, mushrooms, and fermented (not pasteurized) dairy or whole milk from grass-fed cows may increase vitamin D in your body.
Treatments, management plans for metastatic cancer
Conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy can cause pain and sickness. It may cause mouth sores, nausea, nerve damage, and diarrhea, while radiation therapy can lead to burning pain and scarring. Surgery is, of course, painful and requires significant time for recovery.
Natural remedies may help reduce some of the adverse side effects of cancer treatments and help further prevent the development of cancer cells or tumors. These include:
- Astragalus (Huang qi)
- Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
- Cat’s claw (Uncaria tormentosa)
- Coneflower (Echinacea)
- Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
- Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
- Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
- Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
- Sheep’s sorrel (Rumex acetosella)
- Skullcap (Scutellaria barbata)
Where to learn more
Metastatic cancer is any type of cancer that has spread from the primary site (the area where it initially formed) to other parts of the body.