Cancer Recurrence

Definition of Cancer Recurrence:
Cancer that has recurred (come back), usually after a period of time during which the cancer could not be detected. The cancer may come back to the same place as the original (primary) tumor or to another place in the body. Also called recurrent cancer.

Source: The website of the National Cancer Institute (

Understanding Cancer Recurrence

What do we mean when we say a person’s cancer is recurrent?

A cancer recurrence means that a person who was thought to be cancer free has cancer again. This can be interpreted in several ways.

If the cancer returns to the same primary location, it is called a local recurrence. If the cancer is detected in surrounding lymph nodes to the original location, it is a regional recurrence. If the cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, it is called metastatic recurrence. Metastatic cancer is also called stage 4.

Cancer recurrence is treated differently depending on the specific type of cancer and the location of the recurrence.

What are some of the common misconceptions patients have about the spread of cancer?

One of the biggest sources of confusion for patients comes when their cancer has spread from one location to another. For example, it is possible for breast cancer to spread to the bone. People will assume they now have bone cancer, but this is not the case. They actually have metastatic breast cancer.

Cancer is treated by cell type. Breast cancer cells respond in certain ways to certain treatments. If cancer has spread to the bone, you will still receive treatment for breast cancer.

Source: University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

The Role of Cancer Stem Cells in Cancer Recurrence and Metastasis

Because of their relatively slow rate of proliferation, cancer stem cells (CSCs) may be resistant to chemotherapeutic strategies that target rapidly dividing cancer cells. Moreover, the tumor microenvironment and dysregulated stemness pathways may provide additional protection against chemotherapy and radiation.

Although chemotherapy and radiation may kill most of the cells in the tumor, CSCs that are not eradicated may lead to regrowth or recurrence of the tumor either at the primary site or at distant sites.

Source: Boston Biomedical

Early detection can give you lots of time to change your diet and lifestyle before the disease has time to develop into full blown cancer.

The Tests page has information about a range of early cancer detection tests you can consider.

Recommended reading:

By Jenny Hrbacek

I spent 4 years and some $40,000 learning what my oncology team did not tell me. And I share it all with you. This book gives you a clear roadmap – what the tests are, what they look for, how to order them, the degree of accuracy, what they cost, and more. I also give you the big picture as to what causes cancer so you are empowered to prevent it. And if you are in treatment, I tell you how you can avoid the toxic one-size-fits-all standard of care that opens the door for far too many of us to have a recurrence of cancer. Did you know that 90% of people who get a recurrence die within 5 years? Don’t let that be you. Find cancer early – get tested!

Final thought
Many patients, when told they are cancer-free, breathe a sigh of relief and go back to the lifestyle they lived before being diagnosed with cancer. This is a huge mistake and can lead to recurrence of cancer. Instead, patients need to continue with an anti-cancer lifestyle of proper nutrition & diet, daily exercise, leaving t
oxic relationships and so on.

1. To help avoid a recurrence please see these 28 Cancer Prevention tips.
2. To check whether you’re really cancer-free, please see Tests page.

Note: has no financial or other involvement with any of the products or services listed on this site.

Please share this page to help others