What Is the Prognosis for Metastatic Cancer?

Although certain types of metastatic cancers are curable using various treatments, most patients who have been diagnosed with metastatic cancer have resulted in fatalities, as stated by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. As of 2015, the 5-year survival rate of patients with stage-4 metastatic lung cancer is 4 percent, according to Mayo Clinic.

Metastatic cancer is characterized by the growth of a malignant tumor that develops away from the initial site of the cancer. Cancer cells spread by being transported through the blood stream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body, as explained by the American Cancer Society. Metastasis can occur in the brain, adrenal glands, peritoneum and genitals but are more common in the bones, liver and lungs.

The prognosis for metastatic cancer depends on several factors, such as the stage when the metastasis was diagnosed or the level of response of cancer patients to treatments. Treatments are generally based on the primary site of the disease. For instance, patients with bladder cancer that has metastasized to the liver undergo treatment for bladder cancer. Recommended treatments include various types of therapy, such as chemical, hormonal, targeted, biological and radiation therapy. Surgery is another option available to metastatic cancer patients. Although the survival rate is currently low, developments in cancer research are aimed to prolong the life or totally cure metastatic cancer patients.