Metastasis is the spread of tumor cells from a primary site to a secondary site within the host’s body. It is initiated by the detachment of the tumor cells from the primary tumor followed by invasion into the surrounding tissue. Thereafter the cells migrate across the endothelium and into the blood vessels (intravasation). During the intravasation the cells have to survive the sheer forces and the immune response. Upon arrival to the target organ, the cells leave the circulation and cross the endothelium to reach the host organ. Once there, the tumor cells are greeted with the organ’s local immune cells and with a hostile or inappropriate environment, where they finally have to form proliferating colonies. Metastasis is therefore far from being a straight-forward or efficient process with less than 0.1% of disseminating tumor cells (around 1 × 109 cells per day for a 1 cm size tumor) succeeding in colonizing distal organs. The identification of the involved marker during the early metastasis process will be essential for establishment of new diagnostics tools, as well as development of novel treatment strategies.
Part of the book: Cancer Metastasis