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Biomed Pharmacother. 2001 May;55(4):229-42.

Occult metastasis.

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Department of Pathology, Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern Califonia/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles 90033, USA.


The most important factor affecting the outcome of patients with invasive cancers is whether the tumor has spread, either regionally (to regional lymph nodes) or systemically. However, a proportion of patients with no evidence of systemic dissemination will develop recurrent disease after primary 'curative' therapy. Clearly, these patients had occult systemic spread of disease that was undetectable by methods routinely employed (careful pathological, clinical, biochemical and radiological evaluation). In addition, the success of adjuvant therapy is assumed to stem from its ability to eradicate occult metastases before they become clinically evident [1]. Therefore, methods for the detection of occult metastases in patients with the earliest stage of cancer, i.e., prior to detection of metastases by any other clinical or pathological analysis, have received a great deal of attention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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