Bollywood actor Sonali Bendre recently revealed that she has been diagnosed with metastatic cancer. The 43-year-old, who has starred in films like Hum Saath Saath Hain, Sarfarosh, Duplicate and Kal Ho Na Ho, released a statement that read: “Sometimes when you least expect it, life throws you a curveball. I have recently been diagnosed with high-grade cancer that has metastasized, which we frankly did not see coming. A niggling pain led to some tests, which led to this unexpected diagnosis. My family and close friends have rallied around me, providing the best support system that anyone can ask for. I am very blessed and thankful for each of them.”
“There is no better way to tackle this than to take swift and immediate action. And so, as advised by my doctors, I am currently undergoing a course of treatment in New York. We remain optimistic and I am determined to fight every step of the way. I’m taking this battle head-on, knowing I have the strength of my family and friends behind me,” she also said. No sooner did she post it on social media, many stars and celebrities expressed their concern and started pouring heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery.
— Sonali Bendre Behl (@iamsonalibendre) July 4, 2018
But, what is metastatic cancer? What are the symptoms and how can you identify it? According to WebMD, cancer is typically labelled in stages from I to IV, with IV being the most serious.
What is metastatic cancer?
In high-grade (poorly differentiated) cancers, the cancer cells look very different from normal cells. High-grade cancers often tend to grow quickly and have a worse outlook so they may need different treatments than low-grade cancers. Whereas in low-grade (well-differentiated) cancers, the cancer cells look a lot like cells from normal tissue. In general, these cancers tend to grow slowly.
A metastatic cancer, or metastatic tumour, is one which has spread regionally to distant area(s) of the body. For example, breast cancer that spreads to the lung is called metastatic breast cancer, not lung cancer. It is treated as stage IV breast cancer, not as lung cancer.
How to identify metastatic cancer?
It is rather difficult to spot the symptoms of metastatic cancer as it does not always cause any direct discomfort. However, the common causes depend on the size and location of the tumour. Here are a few symptoms you must take note of:
* Pain or fracture, if the muscles or bones are affected
* Headache, seizure or nausea, if it affects the brain
* If cancer reaches the lungs, it can cause shortness of breath
* Jaundice or swelling in the belly, if it goes to the liver
How cancer spreads in the body?
Cancer cells move through the walls of lymph nodes or blood vessels into the nearby normal tissue. It then travels through the lymphatic system and bloodstream while stooping in small blood vessels at distant locations, invading the blood vessel walls and moving into the surrounding tissue. A tiny tumour grows and creates a blood supply that helps it grow further.
Where can metastatic cancer spread?
Metastatic cancer can spread to different parts of the body. While the primary sites are bladder, breast, colon, uterus, melanoma, ovary, pancreas, stomach and thyroid, it can move on to bone, liver, lung and brain.
How to prevent metastatic cancer?
It is believed that having a simple, balanced lifestyle and proper diet can help stop cancer from growing in the body. A few nutrients like Vitamin D, EGCG, ursolic acid, curcumin and sulforaphane can help keep cancer at bay. Green tea, eggs, salmon, mushroom, milk and a plant-based diet are a few foods on the list.