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Oncotarget. 2010 Nov;1(7):651-61.

Epithelial mesenchymal transition and tumor budding in aggressive colorectal cancer: tumor budding as oncotarget.

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Institute for Pathology, University Hospital Basel, Schoenbeinstrasse 40, Basel, Switzerland.


Epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) is proposed as a critical mechanism for the acquisition of malignant phenotypes by epithelial cells. In colorectal cancer, tumor cells having undergone EMT are histologically represented by the presence of tumor buds defined as single cells or small clusters of de-differentiated tumor cells at the invasive front. Tumor budding is not a static, histological feature rather it represents a snap-shot of a dynamic process undertaken by an aggressive tumor with the potential to disseminate and metastasize. Strong, consistent evidence shows that tumor budding is a predictor of lymph node metastasis, distant metastatic disease, local recurrence, worse overall and disease-free survival time and an independent prognostic factor. Moreover, the International Union against Cancer (UICC) recognizes tumor budding as a highly relevant, additional prognostic parameter. The aim of this review is to summarize the evidence supporting the implementation of tumor budding into diagnostic pathology and patient management and additionally to illustrate its worthiness as a potential therapeutic target.

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