Critical steps in hematogenous metastasis: an overview

Surg Oncol Clin N Am. 2001 Apr;10(2):243-55, vii.


Metastasis is responsible for most cancer deaths. A better understanding of the process provides opportunities to develop new treatments to prevent metastasis. This article summarizes findings from experimental in vivo videomicroscopy and quantitative studies on metastatic inefficiency, which indicate that early steps in hematogenous metastasis may be quite efficient, but that regulation of cancer cell growth in secondary sites determines metastatic outcome. The authors have identified three key stages of this growth regulation: survival of a subset of single cells, proliferation of a subset of these cells to form preangiogenic micrometastases, and persistence of growth of a subset of these to form vascularized metastases. Formation of clinically relevant metastases is determined by the proportion of cells that proceeds successfully through each stage, and surviving single cells and preangiogenic micrometastases both represent possible sources of tumor dormancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / ultrastructure*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Video
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / ultrastructure*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / ultrastructure*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology*