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Keywords:

  • cancer stem cells;
  • extracellular matrix;
  • metastasis;
  • microenvironment;
  • niche

Abstract

Metastasis is an inefficient process and most cancer cells fail to colonize secondary sites. There are several possible reasons for this. First, the nature of the infiltrating cells is important as a small population of cancer stem cells has been shown to have exclusive metastasis-initiating potential. Secondly, supportive niches are required to promote the outgrowth of disseminated tumour cells. Such niches are either produced prior to the arrival of cancer cells in the target organ or are induced ad hoc upon cell infiltration. Components of the extracellular matrix (ECM) have been found to play a role in establishing these niches. This has highlighted the importance of the ECM for metastatic progression, and suggests that such components may provide alternative targets for treatment of metastatic disease.