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Tumori. 2003 Jul-Aug;89(4):343-8.

Cancer invasion: watch your neighbourhood!

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Department of Cell Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, USA.


The critical event in neoplastic diseases is the invasion of surrounding tissue by cancer cells. This event greatly reduces treatment options, and makes cancer a lethal disease. Factors that initiate cancer invasion are not well understood, neither do we have mechanistic insights in the process itself. Recently, a new concept has emerged: the tissue surrounding tumor cells, ie, the tumor microenvironment, may play an important, if not decisive role in triggering invasion. This concept is based on data from many laboratories working on the cell biology of cancer invasion. In this review, we survey several components of the tumor microenvironment, including extracellular matrix macromolecules, metalloproteinases and soluble factors, and discuss their potential involvement in stimulating cancer cell motility. These novel views may have far-reaching consequences, since "normal" tissue microenvironment components, rather than the traditional tumor cells themselves, may eventually become targets for devising new treatments that prevent, inhibit or block cancer invasion and metastasis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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