Targeting metastatic cancer

Nat Med. 2021 Jan;27(1):34-44. doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-01195-4. Epub 2021 Jan 13.


Despite recent therapeutic advances in cancer treatment, metastasis remains the principal cause of cancer death. Recent work has uncovered the unique biology of metastasis-initiating cells that results in tumor growth in distant organs, evasion of immune surveillance and co-option of metastatic microenvironments. Here we review recent progress that is enabling therapeutic advances in treating both micro- and macrometastases. Such insights were gained from cancer sequencing, mechanistic studies and clinical trials, including of immunotherapy. These studies reveal both the origins and nature of metastases and identify new opportunities for developing more effective strategies to target metastatic relapse and improve patient outcomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / genetics
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / therapy*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Microenvironment