What is Metastasis?
Metastasis is the spread of cancer cells from one part of the body to another. Sometimes, a small number of tumor cells remain undetectable in the body after cancer surgery or treatment. These cells can travel to nearby healthy tissues and organs and invade them—months, years, or even decades later.
Despite recent and tremendous progress in understanding and treating cancer, metastasis remains one of the disease’s biggest problems. In fact, 90 percent of cancer deaths are due to metastasis — not the original tumor.
MSK is revolutionizing the study of metastasis.
Research into stem cell biology, tissue regeneration, and immunity is helping Sloan Kettering Institute scientists learn what makes metastatic cancer cells thrive. Through a series of major findings, MSK physicians and researchers are learning how to better treat metastatic disease.
I think we’re at the cusp of a new era in understanding more about the cells that cause and enable metastasis. With the convergence of disciplines and technologies…we are finally beginning to understand how these cells differ at the molecular level.
Dr. Joan Massagué,
Director, Sloan Kettering Institute
For example, through analyses of individual cells, Dr. Massagué and his team recently identified a molecule required by cancer cells to grow in a new location. Without it, cancer cells that infiltrate distant organs fail to morph into a new tumor. The finding applies to several different cancer types and metastatic sites, offering promise for future drug development and a new way to save lives.
While progress has been made in research of metastatic cancer, there’s still more work to be done.
Donate today and your dollars will help MSK physician-scientists learn more about how to stop metastasis – cancer’s spread.