Metastatic colonization by circulating tumour cells

Nature. 2016 Jan 21;529(7586):298-306. doi: 10.1038/nature17038.


Metastasis is the main cause of death in people with cancer. To colonize distant organs, circulating tumour cells must overcome many obstacles through mechanisms that we are only now starting to understand. These include infiltrating distant tissue, evading immune defences, adapting to supportive niches, surviving as latent tumour-initiating seeds and eventually breaking out to replace the host tissue. They make metastasis a highly inefficient process. However, once metastases have been established, current treatments frequently fail to provide durable responses. An improved understanding of the mechanistic determinants of such colonization is needed to better prevent and treat metastatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / drug therapy
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / immunology
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / drug effects
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / immunology
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / pathology*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Stem Cell Niche
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology