Effects of radiation on the metastatic process

Mol Med. 2018 Apr 24;24(1):16. doi: 10.1186/s10020-018-0015-8.


Radiotherapy remains one of the corner stones in the treatment of various malignancies and often leads to an improvement in overall survival. Nonetheless, pre-clinical evidence indicates that radiation can entail pro-metastatic effects via multiple pathways. Via direct actions on cancer cells and indirect actions on the tumor microenvironment, radiation has the potential to enhance epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, invasion, migration, angiogenesis and metastasis. However, the data remains ambiguous and clinical observations that unequivocally prove these findings are lacking. In this review we discuss the pre-clinical and clinical data on the local and systemic effect of irradiation on the metastatic process with an emphasis on the molecular pathways involved.

Keywords: Cancer; Invasion; Metastasis; Radiation; Radiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Neoplastic Processes*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / etiology
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects*