Definition of Metastatic cancer to the lung
Metastatic cancer to the lung is cancer that starts somewhere else in the body and spreads to the lungs.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Metastatic tumors in the lungs are cancers that developed at other places in the body (or other parts of the lungs) and spread through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to the lungs. Common tumors that spread to the lungs include:
In most cases, metastatic cancer to the lung is a sign that the cancer has spread into the bloodstream. Usually cancer will be present even in places not seen by CT scans. In these circumstances, removing the visible tumors with surgery is usually not beneficial, although it may still be considered. Chemotherapy is usually the treatment of choice.
A cure is unlikely in most cases. It is rare for someone to live more than 5 years with metastatic cancer to the lungs. However, the outlook depends on the specific type of primary cancer.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/2/2010