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Diagn Cytopathol. 2005 Nov;33(5):316-9.

Tumor microenvironment: what can effusions teach us?

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Molecular Signaling Section, Laboratory of Pathology, Center for Cancer Research National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1500, USA.


Malignant effusions, which are composed of malignant pleural and peritoneal fluid, are an unusual manifestation of cancer and frequently portend a poor prognosis. Neoplastic cells that disseminate into cavities containing effusions are highly metastatic and possess a strong autonomous proliferative drive while concurrently being stimulatory of exudative effusions. Most effusions will respond to transient therapeutic intervention, including the obliteration of potential space via pleurodesis. Cure, however, is rare, thus making effusions a biologically, biochemically, and clinically important topic of study. The local microenvironment that supports malignant growth, invasion, and dissemination of the solid primary tumor into the vasculature is composed of activated stroma that includes scaffolding consisting of materials that promote the tumor function, and vascular structures to provide conduits for travel and nutrient delivery. Less is understood about the tumor-cell microenvironment in malignant effusions. The fluid nature of such a microenvironment when compared with the solid primary tumor may have significant implications for disease dissemination and progression. Dissecting the signaling activity and components of such microenvironments will improve our understanding and ultimately our ability to provide better patient care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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