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Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2011 Apr;7(4):208-18. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2010.227. Epub 2011 Jan 4.

Bone metastasis: mechanisms and therapeutic opportunities.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Center for Orthopedic Research, Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 West Markham Street, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA.


The skeleton is one of the most common sites for metastatic cancer, and tumors arising from the breast or prostate possess an increased propensity to spread to this site. The growth of disseminated tumor cells in the skeleton requires tumor cells to inhabit the bone marrow, from which they stimulate local bone cell activity. Crosstalk between tumor cells and resident bone and bone marrow cells disrupts normal bone homeostasis, which leads to tumor growth in bone. The metastatic tumor cells have the ability to elicit responses that stimulate bone resorption, bone formation or both. The net result of these activities is profound skeletal destruction that can have dire consequences for patients. The molecular mechanisms that underlie these painful and often incurable consequences of tumor metastasis to bone are beginning to be recognized, and they represent promising new molecular targets for therapy.

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