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Is cancer a disease of self-seeding?

The high cell density, rapid growth rate and large population size of cancer are conventionally attributed to a pathologically high ratio of cell production to cell death. Yet these features might also or instead result from inappropriate cell movement, already understood to underlie invasion and metastasis. This integrating concept could induce a broadening of our existing anticancer pharmacopoeia, which, with mitosis as its predominant target, is now seldom curative.

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Figure 1: The self-seeding concept of cancer growth and metastasis.
Figure 2: Gompertzian growth curves.


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The authors express their appreciation to A.B. Olshen for his review of mathematical details, to T.J. Riley for drawing the figures, and to C. Pearce for editing the manuscript. We also acknowledge with gratitude discussions with our principal P01-CA94060-04 colleagues—R. Benezra, M. Jasin, S. Larson, M. Moynahan, N. Rosen and H. Varmus—and with J. Bromberg, G. Gupta, C. Hudis, R. Kurtz, A. Minn, D. Spriggs and C. Van Poznak.

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Correspondence to Larry Norton.

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Norton, L., Massagué, J. Is cancer a disease of self-seeding?. Nat Med 12, 875–878 (2006).

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