Mnemonics

Mnemonic Monday: Watch it Grow! Cancer Metastisis

By Molly Lewis

Cancer- the big “C” word that no patient wants to hear. What could be worse? The big M word: Metastasis! Cancer can start in the kidneys and spread to the bone, start in the colon and spread to the brain, start in the pancreas and spread to the liver, etc, etc, etc.

When you find metastatic lesions in a patient’s bone, brain, or liver, where should you look first to find the primary tumor? Here are a few mnemonics to help you remember what are the most common sources based on the site of the mets…

(PS: in a pinch, guess melanoma! It can go anywhere – even the heart or the spleen!!)

If you find it hard to remember what “S” stands for stomach vs. skin, etc., think about venous drainage: where does the blood from an organ go? That is often where its cancer cells will go and set up house- metastasis!

Watch it Grow! Cancer Metastasis - boneBone
“BLT + THE KOSHER PICKLE”
B = BREAST
L = LUNG
T = THYROID
T = TESTES
K = KIDNEY
P = PROSATE

Watch it Grow! Cancer Metastasis - BrainBrain
“LOTS OF BAD STUFF KILLS GLIA”
L = LUNG
B = BREAST
S = SKIN (MELANOMA)
K = KIDNEY
G = GI TRACT
Watch it Grow! Cancer Metastasis - liverLiver
“CANCER SOMETIMES PENETRATES BENIGN LIVER”
C = COLON
S = STOMACH
P = PANCREAS
B = BREAST
L = LUNG

!!- This mnemonic is in the (approximate) order of frequency: liver mets are more often from the colon than the stomach, more often from the stomach than the pancreas, etc:
• Colon > Stomach > Pancreas > Breast > Lung

(caveat: I couldn’t find a study backing this up; it’s just what the person who taught me this mnemonic told me- take it for what it’s worth…).

 

Do you have a mnemonic that you use to help you remember sites of cancer metastasis? Post it below!

 

Bibliography
Liver and Brain mnemonics: http://memorize.com/pathology/jingalingaling
Bone mnemonic: my brain + an ortho resident I worked with

Categories: Mnemonics

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