Journal of Molecular Medicine

, Volume 94, Issue 3, pp 259–265 | Cite as

The biology and clinical implications of prostate cancer dormancy and metastasis

  • Colm Morrissey
  • Robert L. Vessella
  • Paul H. Lange
  • Hung-Ming Lam


Disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) are detected early in the disease process in prostate cancer (PCa) patients and can persist after radical prostatectomy. DTCs can remain dormant in patients with no evidence of disease for a prolonged period of time only to recur 10 or more years later. Recent advances in single-cell genomics and transcriptomics have provided much needed insight into DTC biology and cancer dormancy in patients. With the development of new in vitro and preclinical models, researchers recapitulate the clinical events in patients and therefore allow further elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying cancer dormancy and escape. In this review, we explore novel ideas on the detection, heterogeneous transcriptomic profiles, molecular and cellular mechanisms of dormancy, and potential mechanisms underlying dormancy escape by DTCs. As such, there is hope that identifying and targeting novel dormancy-associated pathways in patients with residual disease will have significant clinical implications for the treatment of PCa patients in the future.


Disseminated tumor cells Dormancy Microenvironment Bone marrow Prostate cancer Metastasis 



The work was supported by NIH PO1 CA85859, the Pacific Northwest Prostate Cancer SPORE NIH P50 CA097186, and the Richard M. LUCAS Foundation. H.M.L. is a recipient of the Young Investigator Award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and a Career Development Award from the Pacific Northwest Prostate Cancer SPORE (P50 CA097186). This material is also the result of work supported by resources from the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, Washington (R.L.V. is a VA Biomedical Laboratory R&D senior research career scientist and P.H.L. is a staff physician).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colm Morrissey
    • 1
  • Robert L. Vessella
    • 1
    • 2
  • Paul H. Lange
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hung-Ming Lam
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of UrologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Veterans Affairs Medical CenterSeattleUSA

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