Biomarkers in cancer micrometastasis: where are we at?

Bioanalysis. 2010 May;2(5):881-99. doi: 10.4155/bio.10.49.


Despite considerable advances in the field of solid tumors, disseminated malignancy remains the cause of the vast majority of cancer-related deaths. In patients with no overt metastasis, early spread of tumor cells is usually undetected by current imaging technologies. In addition, the metastatic process is complex and depends on multiple interactions (crosstalk) of disseminating tumor cells with the individual homeostatic mechanisms, which the tumor cells can usurp. Despite these many variables, a flurry of surrogate biomarkers to detect micrometastasis has been developed in the last decade. These biomarkers open avenues for understanding cancer dormancy and metastasis, have the potential to provide novel therapeutic targets and may help predict outcome and therapeutic decisions at diagnosis and during follow-up of cancer patients. This review focuses on ongoing efforts to unravel metastasis biology, surrogate biomarkers currently investigated to monitor micrometastasis and tools used to identify, quantify and determine their capacity to efficiently establish metastasis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Blood Coagulation
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology
  • Neoplasms / blood
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / surgery


  • Biomarkers, Tumor