In the process of an extensive workup for cancer a patient may have many different x-rays and lab work done. Sometimes this uncovers a second “spot”. Initially this might be felt to be the primary or first cancer having spread, making the “spot” a metastasis. When tissue is obtained from both sights, which means the patient gets a biopsy done on both, than the Pathologists can tell if they look the same or are different. If they look the same under the microscope than the cancer has spread, if they are different the patient has two different cancers at the same time. This can make treatment complicated but not impossible. In my practice I have had many patients who have had two or more cancers; a few patients have had five different cancers over time. Just another good reason to follow with your cancer doctor for a life time!
Dr. Kris Gast is a Board Certified Radiation Oncologist who has been in practice 21 years, the last 13 years at Fort Smith Radiation Oncology.