Pathology dictionary -


A metastasis is the movement of tumour cells from the place where the tumour started to a different part of the body. Tumour cells can travel to a lymph node or to another organ such as the lungs, liver, bones, or brain.

When performing surgery to remove a tumour, lymph nodes in the areas of a tumour are often also removed. A pathologist then examines the lymph nodes under a microscope to look for cancer cells.

A small sample of tissue can also be removed from an organ such as the lungs or liver to look for cancer cells that may have traveled there from a tumour in a different part of the body.


The ability to metastasize is usually associated with cancers (malignant tumours) however there are some non-cancerous tumours (benign tumours) that are also known to metastasize.


For many types of cancers, the patient is harmed more by the metastatic disease than by the primary tumour (which can often be removed surgically). In addition, some types of cancer are much more likely to metastasize to lymph nodes while others metastasize to distant organs.

Why is this important? For most types of cancers, metastatic disease is used to determine the pathologic stage. Cancer cells found in a lymph node or distant organ are often associated with a higher stage and worse prognosis. 

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Copyright 2017

For more information about this site, contact us at

Disclaimer: The articles on MyPathologyReport are intended for general informational purposes only and they do not address individual circumstances. The articles on this site are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the MyPathologyReport site. The articles on are intended for use within Canada by residents of Canada only.

Droits d'auteur 2017
Pour plus d'informations sur ce site, contactez-nous à
Clause de non-responsabilité: Les articles sur MyPathologyReport ne sont destinés qu’à des fins d'information et ne tiennent pas compte des circonstances individuelles. Les articles sur ce site ne remplacent pas les avis médicaux professionnels, diagnostics ou traitements et ne doivent pas être pris en compte pour la prise de décisions concernant votre santé. Ne négligez jamais les conseils d'un professionnel de la santé à cause de quelque chose que vous avez lu sur le site de MyPathologyReport. Les articles sur sont destinés à être utilisés au Canada, par les résidents du Canada uniquement.