Stage 4 Cancer & Related Cancer Terms

Stage 4 Cancer & Related Cancer Terms

January 13, 2011, 5:26 pm

Means that the disease has spread to other organs beyond the location of the primary (original) tumour. This definition can be used for many, but not all types of cancer. Staging as such describes the extent and the severity of the disease. Cancer can be described by 5 stages – Stage 0, stage I, II, III and finally Stage IV (0,1,2,3,4). The Internet is flooded by Stage 4 Cancer definitions. Here is a link to the source that I found most comprehensive

Most used cancer-related terms:


Refers to the activity of cancer, i.e. the disease is not active. Remission can occur after a successful treatment, for example chemotherapy.

Metastasis, metastases (plural), metastasize

Metastases are tumours that arise at other location in the body than the original tumour. Metastases maintain the characteristics of the original tumour, i.e. if the original tumour consisted of synovial cells, even the metastases in my lungs or uterus consist of synovial cells. Some cancers spread via bloodstream, other via lymphatic system.

Malignant versus Benign Tumour

Cancers are caused by malignant tumours, whose main characteristics are (1) survival, i.e. unlike the healthy cells the cancerous cells lose the ability to die off and (2) ability to invade healthy tissue, i.e. the cancerous cells invade the healthy tissue nearby the tumour or invade other organs in the body through bloodstream, other via lymphatic system. Benign tumours are non-cancerous tumours. However even a benign tumour can be dangerous if the location makes it inoperable.

Curative versus Palliative

Medical dictionaries define palliative care as care that affords relief, but not cure.  Curative care, on the other hand, is defined as care that tends to overcome disease, and promote recovery.