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Nurse speaking with patient about metastatic lung cancer.

Metastatic lung cancer is lung cancer that has started to spread. What this means is that cancer cells can separate themselves from a tumor and travel through the blood or lymph system to other areas in the body. Lung cancer might be classified as metastatic upon initial diagnosis or later on, following treatment. Lung cancer – like any other type of cancer – usually does not spread right away. Metastasis is typically a gradual process, causing few if any side effects until the tumors become large enough to affect the nearby organs. Metastatic lung cancers are usually stage 3 or stage 4, depending on how extensively the cancer has grown and spread.

As cancerous cells accumulate in the lungs, they can slowly invade the healthy surrounding tissues. In most cases, they first spread to other parts of the lung. This is known as local metastasis. However, if cancerous cells invade the lymph nodes, they can travel through the lymphatic system to other parts of the body, eventually forming secondary tumors in other organs. This is known as distant metastasis.

Common questions about metastatic lung cancer

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer, you may have quite a few questions. Moffitt Cancer Center is here to help. The following FAQs can help you get a better understanding of the condition:

At Moffitt, we have the expertise necessary to treat all types and stages of lung cancer, no matter how far – or to what part of the body – it has spread. Our goal is to help every patient achieve not only the best possible outcome, but also a high quality of life. This is reflected in our individualized approach to treatment, as well as the comprehensive range of supportive care services we offer.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Andreas Saltos.

If you’d like to learn more about the metastatic lung cancer treatment options offered at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online. We welcome but do not require physician referrals.


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