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BioMed Research International
Volume 2017, Article ID 8534371, 11 pages
Review Article

Breast Carcinoma: From Initial Tumor Cell Detachment to Settlement at Secondary Sites

Biochemistry and Tumor Biology Lab, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany

Correspondence should be addressed to Ralf Hass; ed.revonnah-hm@flar.ssah

Received 6 March 2017; Revised 11 May 2017; Accepted 8 June 2017; Published 12 July 2017

Academic Editor: Jeroen T. Buijs

Copyright © 2017 Catharina Melzer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Metastasis represents a multistep cascade of cancer cell alterations accompanied by structural and functional changes within the tumor microenvironment which may involve the induction of a retrodifferentiation program. Major steps in metastatic developments include (A) cell detachment from the primary tumor site involving epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), (B) migration and invasion into surrounding tissue, (C) transendothelial intravasation into the vasculature of blood and/or lymphatic vessels as circulating tumor cells (CTCs), (D) dissemination to distant organs, and (E) extravasation of CTCs to secondary sites as disseminated tumor cells (DTCs). This article highlights some aspects of the metastatic cascade with a focus on breast cancer cells. Metastatic steps critically depend on the capability of cancer cells to adapt to distant tissues and the corresponding new microenvironment. As a consequence, increasing plasticity and developmental changes paralleled by acquisition of new cancer cell functionalities challenge a successful therapeutic approach.