What is Metastatic Cancer?

If you’re battling cancer, the possibility of cancer spreading is a concern. When cancer cells move from the primary location to other parts of the body, it is called metastasis.

(Metastatic cancer has the same name as the primary cancer. If lung cancer spreads to the breast, it is metastatic lung cancer – not breast cancer – and is treated as Stage IV lung cancer.)

When cancer is found in another part of the body, the metastatic cells have features of the primary tumor. This is how doctors can tell the disease has spread.

Now, you can get a new primary cancer. This is a rare occurrence and is known as a second primary cancer. In most cases, if you’ve had cancer before, it most likely means the first primary cancer has returned – a cancer recurrence.

Cancer cells spread through the body by invading nearby healthy tissue; by moving into nearby lymph nodes or blood vessels, traveling through the lymphatic system and bloodstream to other parts of the body, and growing into blood vessel walls and the surrounding tissue a tumor forms. When these new blood vessels expand, the blood supply feeds the tumor and growth.

You may not have symptoms of metastatic cancer. If symptoms do show up, they will depend on the location and size of the tumor. There are common signs of metastatic disease, including pain and fractures (cancer has spread to bones); headaches, dizziness, and seizures (cancer has spread to the brain); shortness of breath (cancer has spread to the lungs); swelling in the stomach (cancer has spread to the liver).

Understand that once cancer spreads, it may be hard to control. Some metastatic cancer can be treated, but most cannot. In any case, there are metastatic cancer treatments for all patients. These treatments are designed to stop or slow the cancer growth – prolong life – and relieve the side effects of cancer.

If your doctor says the cancer can no longer be controlled, palliative care can help control the symptoms as well as side effects of treatment. Generally, palliative care seeks to improve the patient’s quality of life by relieving the pain and stress of illness as well as address loss of appetite, nausea, and sleeplessness.

Regardless of whether you’re battling cancer for the first time, or metastatic cancer, or a cancer recurrence, with more than 200 different types of cancer, no two cancer treatments are alike. What worked for your family or friends is not exactly the treatment you will get; one-size-fits-all does not apply to cancer.

However, there are several consistent factors that contribute to patients’ overall costs for their care. The maximum out-of-pocket limit for 2020 insurance plans is $8,200 for individual plans and $16,400 for family plans.

For many, out-of-pocket costs are a hardship. These expenses – coinsurance, deductibles, copayments – are what a patient pays directly, including for medications, hospital stays, outpatient visits, and other medical care.

Too often, these cash-crunches result in financial toxicity – a term used to describe problems a patient has related to the cost of medical care. But these money problems are avoidable.

If you own a life insurance policy, you can sell the insurance policy. The third-party buyer will assume payment of the policy premiums and will receive the benefit. Meanwhile, you take the money to pay for cancer treatments, pay off debts, travel, or check off bucket list items.

If you’re trying to pay for cancer treatment or seeking a solution to mounting medical debt, give LifeGuide Partners a call. Their experts will give you a free evaluation of your life insurance policy. LifeGuide can tell you what your policy is worth and convert it to cash today, and you receive the money needed to pay for care.