Cancer metastases

Alternative names
Metastatic cancer; Metastasis

Metastasis is the movement or spreading of cancer cells from one organ or tissue to another. Cancer cells usually spread via the bloodstream, or lymph system.


Whether or not cancer cells metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body depends on many factors, including:

  • the type of cancer  
  • the stage of the cancer  
  • original location of the cancer

Treatment depends on the type of cancer and where it has metastasized (where it has spread to).

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Martin A. Harms, M.D.

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