Formation of metastases in specific tissues

Some tissues and organs are more susceptible to the formation of metastases (e.g. liver, lung, and bone), whereas metastases are relatively uncommon in other tissues (e.g. kidney and heart). Several factors have been proposed to explain the formation of metastases in particular tissues including the expression of specific cell adhesion molecules in vascular endothelium of particular organs that are able to arrest circulating tumour cells. Another feature of metastases is the phenomenon of dormancy or latency of metastatic tumours such that many years can elapse between the diagnosis and the apparent curative treatment of the primary tumour and the clinical appearance of metastatic tumours. Dormancy appears to occur when growth of the metastatic tumour is balanced by an equivalent or even higher rate of tumour cell death by apoptosis.

1 Kinzler, K.W. and Vogelstein, B. (1996) The lessons from hereditary colorectal cancer. Cell 87,159-70.

2 Murray, G.I., Duncan, M.E.,O'Neil, P. et al. (1996) Matrix metallopro-teinase-1 is associated with poor prognosis in colorectal cancer. Nat Med 4, 461-2.

Key website resources

New England Journal of Medicine: http://www.nejm.org/collections/ molecularmedicine/TOC/l.htm

National Center for Biotechnology Information: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

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