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Cancer metastasis remains a mystery to modern medicine. The process occurs when cancerous cells break away from a primary tumor and circulate to other parts of the body. Once they reach their new destination they initiate growth of new tumors.

Tumors can be of two types. Benign tumors only grow in one specific area of the body and do not spread to other areas. By contrast, malignant tumors can metastasize to other areas. The diagnosis as to the type of tumor is normally performed by a pathologist but benign tumors do risk becoming malignant and have to be closely monitored.

Metastasis is often found in the later stages of cancer. The more common places that a tumor will spread are the lungs, liver, brain, and bones. One of the mysteries of this process is that studies have shown over time that certain types of cancer often spread to specific parts of the body.

Malignant mesothelioma cells in the tumor break off and make their way to the extracellular matrix. This matrix is a layer of proteins that insulate a tumor from adjoining tissues. They send out cellular molecules that break them down allowing the malignant cells to escape.

Once they find a new location they begin to emit cellular signals to tissue which activate proteins that spur the growth of blood vessels (angiogenesis). The vessels are then able to compliment tumor growth by supplying nutrients and removing wastes.

Metastatic mesothelioma patients

More on research studies for mesothelioma.

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