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Understanding Cancer's Spread

Where it goes, where it grows, and why

11:31am, May 25, 2001

As all cancer patients know, the words from a doctor delivering the diagnosis can be devastating. Each patient quickly learns, however, that the tumor may be only the beginning.

In a woman's breast or a man's prostate gland, for instance, the tumor that was detected often can be eradicated with surgery and radiation. Usually more dangerous is the spread–metastasis–of the initial cancer to organs such as bone, brain, or liver. Cancer cells that have traveled to new locations in

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