me·​tas·​ta·​sis | \ mə-ˈta-stə-səs How to pronounce metastasis (audio) \
plural metastases\ mə-​ˈta-​stə-​ˌsēz How to pronounce metastasis (audio) \

Definition of metastasis

1a : change of position, state, or form
b : the spread of a disease-producing agency (such as cancer cells) from the initial or primary site of disease to another part of the body metastasis of breast cancer to boneMedical Physics also : the process by which such spreading occurs
2 : a secondary malignant (see malignant sense 1) tumor resulting from metastasis

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Other Words from metastasis

metastatic \ ˌme-​tə-​ˈsta-​tik How to pronounce metastasis (audio) \ adjective
metastatically \ ˌme-​tə-​ˈsta-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce metastasis (audio) \ adverb

Examples of metastasis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Currently there is no inhibitor to arrest metastasis. Larry Luxner,, "Israeli scientists pioneering new, less invasive breast cancer detection methods," 18 Nov. 2020 His own bone marrow was seeded with a metastasis that had migrated from an unknown site somewhere in his body. Madeline Drexler, The Atlantic, "A Medical Revolution Too Late for the Man Who Started It," 20 Oct. 2020 But cancer is often not confined to a single region—this is known as metastasis—or surgically accessing the tumor may be difficult. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "A Common Plant Virus Is an Unlikely Ally in the War on Cancer," 5 Oct. 2020 Will Stancil feels a terrible tension between the stasis of quarantine and the metastasis of politics. Washington Post, "November may be the darkest month Americans have seen in a long time," 28 Sep. 2020 Such interviews may be the terminal metastasis of televisual culture: a host body being consumed by its own cells and organs. Jacob Bacharach, The New Republic, "The Instant Nostalgia of the Televised Campaign," 9 Sep. 2020 Five years prior to Mom’s death, my father passed away from a brain tumor, a metastasis from the cancer melanoma. Longreads, "The Grieving Landscape," 10 Aug. 2020 Overall, the spread of cancer—referred to as metastasis—can happen through a series of steps, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Maggie O'neill,, "This Man’s Colon Cancer Spread to the Surface of His Skin. Here’s How That Can Happen," 10 June 2020 That is, these tumors reinitiate an earlier developmental process to bring about invasive metastasis, dispersing the cancer and making it very hard to treat. Philip Ball, Scientific American, "Close-Up Views of Tumors Reveal a New Cancer Biology," 21 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'metastasis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of metastasis

1663, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for metastasis

New Latin, from Late Latin, transition, from Greek, from methistanai to change, from meta- + histanai to set — more at stand

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Time Traveler for metastasis

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The first known use of metastasis was in 1663

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Cite this Entry

“Metastasis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for metastasis


me·​tas·​ta·​sis | \ mə-ˈtas-tə-səs How to pronounce metastasis (audio) \
plural metastases\ -​ˌsēz How to pronounce metastasis (audio) \

Medical Definition of metastasis

1a : change of position, state, or form
b : the spread of a disease-producing agent (as cancer cells or bacteria) or disease from the initial or primary site of disease to another part of the body The overwhelming concern about prostate cancer is its potential for metastasis—for cells to escape the gland and take root in lymph nodes, bones, lungs, skin, or other tissue.— Tom Alexander, Fortune, 20 Sept. 1993 also : the process by which such spreading occurs
2 : a secondary malignant tumor resulting from metastasis … radiation has no known effect on distant metastases from breast cancer …— David Plotkin, The Atlantic Monthly, June 1996

More from Merriam-Webster on metastasis

Britannica English: Translation of metastasis for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about metastasis

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