Although metastatic disease is the primary cause of mortality in cancer patients, the mechanisms leading to overwhelming metastatic burden are still incompletely understood. Metastases are the endpoint of a series of multi-step events involving cancer cell intravasation, dissemination to distant organs, and outgrowth to metastatic colonies. Here we show, for the first-time, that breast cancer cells do not solely disseminate to distant organs from primary tumors and metastatic nodules in the lymph nodes, but also do so from lung metastases. Thus, our findings indicate that metastatic dissemination could continue even after the removal of the primary tumor. Provided that the re-disseminated cancer cells initiate growth upon arrival to distant sites, cancer cell re-dissemination from metastatic foci could be one of the crucial mechanisms leading to overt metastases and patient demise. Therefore, the development of new therapeutic strategies to block cancer cell re-dissemination would be crucial to improving survival of patients with metastatic disease.
Keywords: TMEM doorways; dissemination; intravasation; metastasis.