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Future Oncol. 2011 Nov;7(11):1269-84. doi: 10.2217/fon.11.114.

MRI of metastasis-permissive microenvironments.

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JHU In vivo Cellular & Molecular Imaging Center, The Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology & Radiological Science, Baltimore, MD, USA.


One of the earliest documented observations of the importance of the microenvironment in metastasis was made by Stephen Paget in 1889. More than a century later, the metastatic cascade remains a major cause of mortality from cancer. Cancer meets the criterion of a successful organization that is able to survive by adapting to changing environments. In fact, the tumor microenvironment and stroma are co-opted and shaped by cancer cells to derive a survival advantage. Cohesive strategies integrating advances in molecular biology and chemistry, with noninvasive multimodality imaging, provide new insights into the role of the tumor microenvironment in promoting metastasis from primary tumors as well as insights into environments that attract and permit cancer cells to establish colonies in distant organs. This article provides an overview of molecular and functional imaging characterization of microenvironments that can promote or permit cancer cells to metastasize and the microenvironmental characteristics of distant metastases.

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