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Is metastatic cancer different to primary cancer?


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Hello everyone,

Lets say there is a guy with colorectal carinoma and he developed metastasis in liver.

1. My question is now this guy has a liver cancer as well. Does this liver cancer contain dysplastic cells from colon or does it contain dysplastic hepatocytes. In simple words what I'm asking is in metastatic liver cancer is it the liver cells that are growing out of control or is it in this case cells from the colon has got implanted in liver and this colon cells are growing out of control in the liver.

2. If it is colon cells, does that mean metastatic cancer of liver would not affect the function of liver that much because liver cells are still normal. As opposed to a primary liver cancer where liver cells itself grow out of control and function is bound to be affected.

Thanks a lot :)

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Right, so cancer is named depending on where it originates. Lung cancer metastasing in the brain is still lung cancer. If, as in your example, someone suffering from colorectal carcinoma gets metastases in the liver, they still have bowel cancer, not liver cancer.


This means your scenario with "colon cells getting implanted in the liver" is the more accurate one, although I suspect someone with more medical knowledge than me would react to that description.


Even though it's not originally liver cells, the cancer will eventually take over the surrounding tissue and affect the liver. How much and in what way, as well as means of treatment, depends more on the type of cancer, progression of the disease, and location, than whether the cells are native to a certain organ.

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  • 3 months later...

Liver Mets are still colon cancer, but the cancer cells may be a more clonally invasive subgroup of the primary. They may have acquired mutations in enzymes that can breakdown tissue matrix like MMP, or lost polarity or cell adhesion molecules like cadherin.


Once in the liver the Mets will disrupt the function of the heptocytes, you will see enzymes like ALT and GGT go up in biochemistry so eventually it may cause the organ to fail, to scar. Any chemo or radiotherapy to the liver mets may also induce necrosis and increase scarring.

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