cancer when it has spread

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Soo normally when cancer has already spread to another part of the body, the surgeon won’t go in and remove the new tumor at the new location. Why?? Why do doctors only remove the primary tumor. I’m just thinking it would buy more time to remove any second tumors so the cancer would have to establish new ones to keep growing

In: Biology

3 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

When cancer metastasizes, it almost never makes a second well-defined tumor.

The *first* tumor starts out as one messed-up cell, usually buried under healthy cells, so it grows slowly outward and becomes a big lump, still held in by healthy cells. We call that lump a tumor.

But if the tumor finds its way to the edge of the tissue, or to a blood vessel sometimes, then cells start to slough off its surface, and those cells can float around and get *everywhere*. New, tiny tumors growing in literally dozens of places. If the original tumor was like a sealed bag of flour, metastatic cancer is like the bag broke open and there’s flour everywhere you look.

At that stage surgery isn’t practical and you have to treat the whole affected area (if you can isolate it). That can mean removing a large body part in the hopes of “getting it all”, or using chemotherapy to try and kill all those tiny tumors.

This is why they harp on catching cancer early. If there’s one tumor they go in and get it; they’re decently good at that. Once it’s metastatic, it’s a different, much harder game.

Anonymous 0 Comments

ELI5: Removing a tumor can be like picking up an ice cube you dropped on the floor. Trying to remove cancer that has spread is like trying to pick up that same ice cube after it’s been sitting on the floor melting for 20 minutes.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Also, paradoxically, a tumor can secrete chemicals into the blood that suppress the growth of its offspring tumors in the rest of the body.

If you take out that main tumor, all the others, which may be in more dire locations, will all start to grow.