Tumor lymphangiogenesis as a potential therapeutic target

J Oncol. 2012;2012:204946. doi: 10.1155/2012/204946. Epub 2012 Feb 16.


Metastasis the spread of cancer cells to distant organs, is the main cause of death for cancer patients. Metastasis is often mediated by lymphatic vessels that invade the primary tumor, and an early sign of metastasis is the presence of cancer cells in the regional lymph node (the first lymph node colonized by metastasizing cancer cells from a primary tumor). Understanding the interplay between tumorigenesis and lymphangiogenesis (the formation of lymphatic vessels associated with tumor growth) will provide us with new insights into mechanisms that modulate metastatic spread. In the long term, these insights will help to define new molecular targets that could be used to block lymphatic vessel-mediated metastasis and increase patient survival. Here, we review the molecular mechanisms of embryonic lymphangiogenesis and those that are recapitulated in tumor lymphangiogenesis, with a view to identifying potential targets for therapies designed to suppress tumor lymphangiogenesis and hence metastasis.