Nature Reviews Cancer 9, 274-284 (April 2009) | doi:10.1038/nrc2622

Focus on: Migration and metastasis

Metastasis: from dissemination to organ-specific colonization

Don X. Nguyen1, Paula D. Bos1 & Joan Massagué1,2  About the authors


Metastasis to distant organs is an ominous feature of most malignant tumours but the natural history of this process varies in different cancers. The cellular origin, intrinsic properties of the tumour, tissue affinities and circulation patterns determine not only the sites of tumour spread, but also the temporal course and severity of metastasis to vital organs. Striking disparities in the natural progression of different cancers raise important questions about the evolution of metastatic traits, the genetic determinants of these properties and the mechanisms that lead to the selection of metastatic cells.

Author affiliations

  1. Cancer Biology and Genetics Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.
  2. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.

Correspondence to: Joan Massagué1,2 Email:


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