The oligo-metastatic state is one whereby the tumor has already spread beyond the primary site of the cancer, but is limited to only a few sites, usually less than 5. This means that there is an intermediate state between localised cancer, and full-blown stage 4 cancer which invariably leads to death. Aggressive treatment of these sites with the use of ablative radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy may possibly lead to a cure for the patient.
This is significant for the treatment of cancer as patients with limited numbers of metastasis who were previously thought to be incurable by some clinicians might be cured with cancer treatments such as radiotherapy.
While it is still not possible to determine which of these patients may be totally cured, the specialised multi-disciplinary management of the oligometastatic patient utilising minimally invasive techniques such as stereotactic body radiation therapy and other ablative methods in conjunction with carefully selected systemic therapy will ensure that patients get the best chance with least side effects when doing so.