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Lung metastases
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Lung metastases

Metastases to the lung; Metastatic cancer to the lung; Lung cancer - metastases; Lung mets

Lung metastases are cancerous tumors that start somewhere else in the body and spread to the lungs.

Images

Bronchoscopy
Lung cancer - lateral chest x-ray
Lung cancer - frontal chest X-ray
Pulmonary nodule - front view chest x-ray
Pulmonary nodule, solitary - CT scan
Lung with squamous cell cancer - CT scan
Respiratory system

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Causes

Metastatic tumors in the lungs are cancers that developed at other places in the body (or other parts of the lungs). They then spread through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to the lungs. It is different than lung cancer that starts in the lungs.

Nearly any cancer can spread to the lungs. Common cancers include:

Symptoms

Symptoms may include any of the following:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will examine you and ask about your medical history and symptoms. Tests that may be done include:

Treatment

Chemotherapy is used to treat metastatic cancer to the lung. Surgery to remove the tumors may be done when any of the following occurs:

However, the main tumor must be curable, and the person must be strong enough to go through the surgery and recovery.

Other treatments include:

Support Groups

You can ease the stress of illness by joining a support group where members share common experiences and problems.

Outlook (Prognosis)

A cure is unlikely in most cases of cancers that have spread to the lungs. But the outlook depends on the main cancer. In rare cases, a person can live more than 5 years with metastatic cancer to the lungs.

You and your family may want to start thinking about end-of-life planning, such as:

Possible Complications

Complications of metastatic tumors in the lungs may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have a history of cancer and you develop:

Prevention

Not all cancers can be prevented. However, many can be prevented by:

Related Information

Cancer
Breast cancer
Colorectal cancer
Prostate cancer
Bladder cancer
Neuroblastoma
Wilms tumor
Chemotherapy
Radiation therapy
Lung cancer

References

Arenberg DA, Pickens A. Metastatic malignant tumors. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 55.

Hayman J, Naidoo J, Ettinger DS. Lung Metastases. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 57.

Putnam JB. Lung, chest wall, pleura, and mediastinum. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 57.

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Review Date: 5/27/2020  

Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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