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Abstract

The last decade has seen an explosion in knowledge of the molecular basis and treatment of cancer. The molecular events that define the lethal phenotype of various cancers—the genetic and cellular alterations that lead to a cancer with a poor or incurable prognosis—are being defined. While these studies describe the cellular events of the lethal phenotype of cancer in detail, how these events result in the common clinical syndromes that kill the majority of cancer patients is not well understood. It is clear that the central step that makes most cancers incurable is metastasis. Understanding the traits that a cancer acquires to successfully grow and metastasize to distant sites gives insight into how tumors produce multiple factors that result in multiple different clinical syndromes that are lethal for the patient.12