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Science 331 (6024): 1559-1564

Copyright © 2011 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

A Perspective on Cancer Cell Metastasis

Christine L. Chaffer1,3,*, and Robert A. Weinberg1,2,3,*

Abstract: Metastasis causes most cancer deaths, yet this process remains one of the most enigmatic aspects of the disease. Building on new mechanistic insights emerging from recent research, we offer our perspective on the metastatic process and reflect on possible paths of future exploration. We suggest that metastasis can be portrayed as a two-phase process: The first phase involves the physical translocation of a cancer cell to a distant organ, whereas the second encompasses the ability of the cancer cell to develop into a metastatic lesion at that distant site. Although much remains to be learned about the second phase, we feel that an understanding of the first phase is now within sight, due in part to a better understanding of how cancer cell behavior can be modified by a cell-biological program called the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition.

1 Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, 9 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.
2 Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
3 Ludwig MIT Center for Molecular Oncology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: weinberg{at} (R.A.W.); chaffer{at} (C.L.C.)

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