What are the treatments for the disease?
Some metastases can be removed surgically. This depends on the type of cancer and its location. This is usually the case when there are very few metastases or the metastasis is isolated.
Medical treatment is the usual approach. Some cancers respond well and are curable, even if there are multiple metastases. Radiation therapy can be useful for local tumor recurrence. Otherwise, systemic therapy is needed. This includes chemotherapy and biological response modifiers. These treatments are administered intravenously or orally. They treat malignant cells wherever they are.
Much research is being done on treating metastases. Other approaches are being tried. These include anticoagulation of the blood, enzyme inhibitors, gene therapy, and growth factor inhibitors. Such treatments are experimental.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Some people can have more than one brain or lung metastasis removed without many long-term problems. Any surgery involves risks. These include infection, bleeding, and allergic reaction to anesthesia.
Radiation therapy for metastasis is usually directed to just one area. Any side effects will be related to the area being treated. In general, nausea, fatigue, and skin irritation can result. More serious effects, like bone marrow suppression or secondary cancers, are possible.
Chemotherapy and biological response modifiers have many side effects, depending on the medicines used. Side effects can be mild, such as nausea, temporary hair loss, and fatigue. More severe nausea and fatigue can be treated with new medicines. Side effects can also be life-threatening, such as severe infections, secondary tumors, severe blood clots, or organ damage.
What happens after treatment for the disease?
Some metastases are curable, while others are not. Some treatments have late complications.
How is the disease monitored?
The person is watched for any recurrence of metastases. Physical exams, blood tests, and tests for tumor markers are done. Chest X-rays, CT scans, bone scans, and MRIs may also be done. In some cases, regular biopsies are performed. Routine screening for remaining cancer genes is being studied. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.