Women in the USA and most of the Western world have a 12% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, which rivals lung cancer in being the most common cause of cancer-related deaths. Approximately 25% of women diagnosed with breast cancer die of the disease. There is a need for better prognostic markers for accurately predicting clinical outcome. As summarized above, adhesion molecules regulate several mechanisms that control tumor cell survival, proliferation, migration, invasion, and the ability to survive in various microenvironments. Therapeutics targeting various cellular invasive and migratory activities might be useful in treating pathologies that are associated with these cell phenotypes, such as metastasis and angiogenesis. Over the past several years, research has led to the development of integrin and protease inhibitors that are now being tested in clinical trials. As the underlying mechanisms and relevant key molecules become progressively identified, there are possibilities to develop antitumor and antiinvasion strategies aimed at functional upregulation of E-cadherin in breast cancers. Further research on other possible factors that affect the N-cadherin switch, on the signaling pathways initiated in N-cadherin-mediated invasion and on the perspective of N-cadherin as a potential marker of invasion, is needed. In the future, we expect the generation and testing of various known, and as yet unknown, molecules that interfere with EMT. Continuing research into the pathways that are intrinsic to the invasive and migratory phenotype of metastatic breast cancer holds promise for the development of new, more effective cancer therapeutics.
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