Lymphangiogenesis, lymphatic endothelial cells and lymphatic metastasis in head and neck cancer--a review of mechanisms

Int J Oral Sci. 2010 Mar;2(1):5-14. doi: 10.4248/IJOS10006.


Lymphatic metastasis is a continuous and complicated process. The detailed mechanisms of lymphatic metastasis are still not very clear, despite considerable research efforts in recent years. Previously, it was commonly accepted that there were no lymphatic vessels in the primary tumor. However, recent studies have demonstrated that lymphatic vessels are detectable in certain types of cancer, and more and more evidence has shown that cancer cells invade into local lymph nodes mainly via peritumoral lymphatic vessels. Moreover, activated endothelial cells may also be important, having an influence on lymphatic metastasis of cancer cells. This article, based on recent research findings, provides an in-depth discussion of the relationship between lymphangiogenesis, tumor-derived lymphatic endothelial cells and lymphatic metastasis in head and neck cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / secondary*
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology*
  • Endothelial Cells / physiology
  • Endothelium, Lymphatic / pathology*
  • Endothelium, Lymphatic / physiopathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphangiogenesis / physiology*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness