Advanced lung cancer – metastasis

Advanced lung cancer is also known as metastatic lung cancer, meaning it has spread to other parts of your body. Lung cancer that spreads to another part of the body is still a lung cancer.

Areas of the body that lung cancer can spread to are given below:


Woman wearing lungs made out of crepe paper

Bone metastases

Lung cancer is a common cause of bone metastases. These occur when cancerous cells break away from the original tumour and travel along the bloodstream or lymphatic system to the bones. These secondary tumours may be found in any bone in the body but most commonly, the spine, the pelvis, the upper arm bones or upper leg bones.

Bone metastases can cause pain which worsens over time if not treated. This can be managed with pain relief. Radiotherapy may be given in certain cases. Bone metastases can sometimes cause a bone to fracture. Bone strengthening agents can be given to help pain and reduce fracture risk. Rarely surgery is required to prevent or treat a significant fracture.

Liver metastases

Liver metastases occur when cancer cells reach the liver via the bloodstream or lymphatic system and cause secondary growths there. Symptoms of liver metastasis may include pain under your ribs, pain on the right side of your abdomen, a swollen abdomen, a loss of appetite and weight loss, or nausea.

Liver metastases are most commonly treated with systemic anti-cancer therapy such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy. Less commonly radiotherapy or surgery will be used. You may also be given anti-sickness medication and pain relief.

Brain metastases

Brain metastases occur when cancer cells spread to the brain. They can cause headaches, mood swings, and other issues.

They are often treatable with radiation or other forms of therapy.