Biology of Cancer Metastasis

Information adapted from AACR Centennial Series: The Biology of Cancer Metastasis: Historical Perspective


  • Tumor metastasis is a multistage process during which malignant cells spread from the primary tumor to discontiguous organs

    • It involves arrest and growth in different microenvironments that are treated clinically with different strategies depending on the tumor histiotype and metastatic location

    • Because of cellular heterogeneity, therapeutics have varying efficacy challenging the oncologist and our understanding of the metastatic process

The Pathogenesis of Metastasis

  • The process of cancer metastasis consists of sequential and interrelated steps, each of which can be rate-limiting since a failure at any step may halt the process

  • The sequential process of metastasis:

    • Transformation --> Angiogenesis --> Motility & Invasion --> Transport --> Adherence --> Extravasation --> Response --> Cell proliferation

Organ Microenvironment