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Metastatic Cancer

  • "This is not disease management, it's lifestyle management."

    - Nathalie Johnson, M.D., breast surgeon
    Medical Director, Legacy Cancer Institute

    nathalie johnson

Metastatic cancer is the term used for any cancer that has spread from its original location to other parts of the body. This spreading may be present at the time of your cancer diagnosis or may develop later, during or after treatment. The most common areas for metastatic cancer are the liver, brain, lungs and bone.

There have been many recent advances in treatment options and supportive care for those with metastatic cancer. Legacy Cancer Institute's approach focuses not just on beating the disease but also on improving your quality of life.

Legacy Cancer Institute offers a variety of approaches to treat and/or support those with metastatic cancer. 

Treatment options

The goal of treatment is to destroy tumors, or to stop or slow their progress. This approach helps to reduce any symptoms or discomfort caused by the disease. The treatment options often depend on where the tumor or tumors are located. Here are the most common options:


Legacy Cancer Institute also offers Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery –– the gold standard radiation treatment — for cancers that have spread to the brain.

Talk to your doctor about which treatment may be best for you. Never be afraid to get a second opinion on treatment options.

Legacy doctors and other staff meet twice a month to discuss those with metastatic breast cancer in a multi-disciplinary cancer care conference.

Comfort (palliative) care

The purpose of palliative care is to reduce symptoms such as pain and discomfort. Medications, surgery, radiation therapy, or devices such as stents may be used. Ask your doctor for a palliative care consultation.

Supportive care

There are many means of support to optimize your well-being and minimize your symptoms. The Legacy Cancer Healing Center offers a range of services to meet the unique needs of metastatic cancer patients. These services include integrative (complementary) care and survivorship planning.

For your physical well-being:

• Comfort and support measures to reduce symptoms and increase comfort
Physical therapy and rehabilitation and speech therapy
• Nutrition counseling
• Movement classes (such as yoga, t'ai chi and nia)
Lymphedema management
• Massage, acupuncture and other healing therapies

For emotional, social and spiritual needs:

• Expressive arts (writing, art therapy)
• Emotional support through counseling, social work or spiritual care
• Cancer support groups
• Stress management techniques, including meditation
Cancer education classes

Hospice care

The goals of hospice are to provide physical care, emotional support and resources to those with a terminal illness. Learn more about hospice here. Hospice can be helpful for you, your family or other caregivers. The sooner hospice services are engaged, the more assistance can be provided. Some people receive hospice care for a while and then improve enough that the services are no longer needed. Hospice care near the end of life can make that time easier and more comfortable for the patient and the family.