Malignancy is defined as neoplastic growth that tends to metastasize. Thus by definition metastatic ability is the correlate of malignant potential. The fonnation of metastatic foci is the most life-threatening aspect of malignant neoplasia. Occult metastatic tumor cells may persist in a donnant state for years after the resection or elimination of the primary tumor (Meltzer 1990; Zajicek 1987). They can then be activated by as yet unidentified stimuli and metastatic foci suddenly develop in an explosive fashion, which results in a rapid demise of the cancer patient. Most cancer deaths are due to the metastatic disease that remains resistant to conventional therapies. The primary aim of research into the mechanisms of tumor invasion and metasÂ tasis fonnation is to identify new strategies for more effective therapy against this most deadly aspect of human cancer. The study of the genetic alterations associated with human tumor proÂ gression has yielded great insight into the mechanisms of oncogenesis (Bishop 1991; Fearon & Vogelstein 1990; Fidler & Radinsky 1990). Studies have clearly shown that the tumor development (tumorigenicity) and subÂ sequent metastatic behavior (malignant potential) are u nder separate genetic control (Garbisa et a1 1987; Muschel et al 1985). Genetic studies
Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology – Annual Reviews
Published: Nov 1, 1993
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