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Common Sites of Metastasis of Adenocarcinoma

author image Dr. C. Richard Patterson
C. Richard Patterson is a retired surgeon and chief medical officer with special interest and experience in gastrointestinal, breast, cancer and trauma surgery. He is the author or co-author of 17 scientific publications, including textbook chapters.
Common Sites of Metastasis of Adenocarcinoma
Adenocarcinomas are cancers that begin in many different organs. Photo Credit: 7activestudio/iStock/Getty Images

Cancer is a category of diseases that occur throughout the body. These tumors grow rapidly at the original site and are capable of spreading metastatic tumors to other parts of the body. Adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer, and it arises most commonly in the airway and lungs, the thyroid, the breast, the organs of the digestive tract, the reproductive organs and the urinary tract.

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Adenocarcinoma of the Airway and Lungs

As for all adenocarcinomas, those of the airway and lungs most often spread first to the nearest lymph nodes, which are in the chest and neck. The more distant sites of metastasis are the liver, the brain and the skeleton. Lung adenocarcinomas may more rarely spread to the intestinal tract and the skin.

Thyroid Adenocarcinoma

Thyroid adenocarcinomas are typically slower-growing than those of other sites and less likely to spread widely. Beyond the lymph nodes of the neck, thyroid adenocarcinoma most commonly metastasizes to the lungs and the skeleton.

Breast Adenocarcinoma

Adenocarcinoma is by far the most common type of breast cancer, and it has a high potential for metastases. The most common sites are lymph nodes under the arm and around the collar bone, the skeleton, the liver, the lungs and the brain. Metastases may become apparent many years after the initial diagnosis and treatment and account for 90 percent of breast cancer deaths.

Adenocarcinomas of the Digestive System

Adenocarcinomas arise in the esophagus, stomach, the intestine, the liver and the pancreas and are the second most common cause of cancer death in American adults. Metastatic sites are lymph nodes, the lining of the abdominal cavity, the liver, lungs, and other parts of the digestive system. The large intestine is most often the original site for these cancers.

Adenocarcinomas of the Reproductive and Urinary Systems

Adenocarcinomas arise in the kidney, the bladder, the ureter, the prostate, the testicle, the ovary and the uterus. Metastases spread to lymph nodes, the lining of the abdomen, liver, lung, bone, brain, skeleton and the digestive tract.

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