Word of the Week: Metastatic

illustration of scientist looking into microscope - word of the week

Alex Dos Diaz / Verywell

Each week, Verywell explains a term from health, medicine, science, or technology.

Word of the Week: Metastatic

How to say it: Metastatic (met-ah-STAH-tick)

What it means: When the cause of a disease (such as cancer cells) moves from the place where it first started to other places in the body.

Where it comes from: From the Latin methistanhi, meaning "to change."

A close up of metastatic ovarian cancer cells under a microscope.

Yale Rosen/Wikimedia Commons

Where you might see or hear it: If you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer in one organ and it spreads to another, your doctor will use the term "metastatic" to describe cancer.

When you might want to use it: If you have cancer and your doctor tells you that it has spread, you can explain to your friends and family that they might hear the term "metastatic" or "metastases" used to describe how your cancer has progressed.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.