27th January 2022

What is metastatic lung cancer?

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When someone is diagnosed with lung cancer, doctors and healthcare professionals may use words that seem like a different language. It’s already an emotional time and hearing words you’re unsure of, such as metastatic lung cancer, can make you feel worried and anxious, you might also have a several questions.

Here, we have gathered all you need to know about metastatic lung cancer. Aiming to give you and your family as much information as possible to ensure you can make informed decisions about your treatment and care.

Lung cancer that has metastasised is another way of referring to cancer cells that have moved away from the primary (main) lung cancer and spread through the blood vessels or lymphatic system to another area of the body. When cancer grows this way, it is often called metastatic or secondary cancer.

It’s possible for lung cancer to spread (metastasise) into tissues surrounding the lungs, such as the pleura. The most common areas for lung cancer to spread to are:

  • – Lymph nodes
  • – Bones
  • – Liver
  • – Adrenal glands
  • – The Brain

Everyone’s lung cancer is different – some lung cancers won’t spread, some may metastasise to one area of the body, others lung cancers may metastasise into several other organs.

If you have lung cancer with metastases in another area of your body, you may not have any symptoms at all. In fact, you may only find out that your lung cancer has spread when you have a scan such as a CT or PET scan.

Treatment for metastatic lung cancer

Currently, advanced (stage 4) metastatic lung cancer can’t be cured, however there are many treatment options available to help you live well for longer with metastatic lung cancer.

Treatments for lung cancer have improved a great deal in recent years and will continue to make progress in the future.  

There may be quite a few treatment choices available to make you feel better, keep your mets stable, or shrink your metastatic lung cancer.

Lung cancer is different for everyone, your lung cancer nurse specialist and multi-disciplinary team will decide which is the correct treatment for you based on a variety of factors:

  • – Lung cancer stage
  • – Location and size of your metastatic lung cancer
  • – Your general health
  • – Any previous treatments you’ve had

Some treatments may come with side effects that could make you feel unwell. Discuss each treatment option with your lung cancer team and see which will be the best one for you.

Richard, from Leeds, is currently being treated with a targeted therapy and is living with lung cancer and bone metastases (bone mets) in his femur and pelvis.

I’m very fortunate because the targeted treatment I am on allows me to lead a very normal life. I have very minimal side effects, and I’m still active. Still working. I’m doing all the things that I’ve done prior to my prognosis, so life is pretty good.

– Richard, living with stage four lung cancer.

Annarita, from Sheffield, is living with stage four lung cancer and brain mets. She has received radiotherapy to help manage symptoms, as well as targeted therapy.

Metastasised lung cancer can also be treated with chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

Lung cancer support

It helps to find out as much information as possible about metastatic lung cancer, that way you can make well informed decisions about your treatment.

Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is here to help you every step of the way. We have free helpful booklets available to support you through your lung cancer journey.

These are available to view online by clicking the buttons below, or you can request a physical copy by emailing info@roycastle.org

Some people may find it beneficial to talk to others who know exactly what it’s like to have metastasised lung cancer. Our free online forum will give you the chance to chat to others, ask questions and share your experiences.