Metastatic Disease


Metastatic Cancer:

When cancer is diagnosed at a late stage or recurs after prior definitive therapy it has a risk of metastasizing, or spreading, to other organs in the body. Different types of cancers have a tendency to spread to certain organs and may cause symptoms such as bone pain, dizziness, headache, or a cough. While metastatic cancer is often considered to be incurable, palliative radiation can often offer relief from symptoms as well as a prolongation of life. With newer and novel treatment approaches, long term cures are being achieved in certain types of metastatic cancers.

Bone Metastases:

Cancer that has spread to the bones can cause a dull aching pain that is exacerbated with weight bearing or movement. Radiation can often be delivered in one to three week treatment courses that give a very high chance (over~85%) of a reduction in pain. Side effects from the radiation vary depending on the location of treatment, but are usually tolerated well with minimal to moderate side effects.

Brain Metastases:

When cancer spreads to the brain it can cause symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, focal weakness on one side of the body, or seizures. Depending on the size and location of the metastases, initial treatment may include surgery or focused radiation called stereotactic radiosurgery. Other times treatment includes whole brain radiation. Your radiation oncologist will carefully review you case to determine which approach is best for you.

Liver Metastases:

Metastatic cancer to the liver can cause upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. There are many novel approaches that are currently being used to treat metastatic liver lesions including surgery, radiofrequency ablation, and stereotactic radiosurgery. Many of our treatment cancers offer stereotactic radiosurgery for liver lesions. This procedure delivers a high dose of radiation to a focal area over one to five treatment days. Your radiation oncologist will carefully review your case to determine whether this is an appropriate treatment for you.

Lung Metastases:

Cancer that has spread to the lung can cause hemoptysis (coughing up blood), cough, pain, and shortness of breath. Radiation to lung metastases is sometimes delivered with a larger field over the course of two to three weeks. Other times small lung lesions can be treated with stereotactic radiosurgery over the course of one to three treatment days.