If lung cancer spreads

Cancer cells can spread from the lung to other parts of the body. This spread is called metastasis.

Understanding how a type of cancer usually grows and spreads helps your healthcare team plan your treatment and future care. If lung cancer spreads, it can spread to the following:

  • lymph nodes in and around the lung and the chest and around the collarbone
  • membranes around the lung, chest and heart
  • chest wall
  • diaphragm
  • windpipe (trachea)
  • spine
  • the other lung
  • esophagus
  • heart
  • adrenal glands
  • liver
  • bones
  • brain

Expert review and references

  • Stephen Lam, MD, FRCPC
  • American Cancer Society. What is Lung Cancer?. 2019.
  • Chiang A, Detterbeck FC, Stewart T, Decker RH, Tanoue L. Non–small cell lung cancer. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg's Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer; 2019: 48:618–670.
  • Hann CL, Wu MA, Rekhtman N, Rudin CM. Small cell and neuroendocrine tumors of the lung. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg's Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer; 2019: 49:671–699.
  • PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board . Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) – Patient Version . Bethesda, MD : National Cancer Institute ; 2020: https://www.cancer.gov/types/lung/patient/non-small-cell-lung-treatment-pdq.
  • PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board . Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) – Patient Version. Bethesda, MD : National Cancer Institute ; 2020: https://www.cancer.gov/types/lung/patient/small-cell-lung-treatment-pdq.