Cancer and Metastasis Reviews

, Volume 26, Issue 3–4, pp 705–715 | Cite as

Metastasis: the seed and soil theory gains identity

  • Emmanouil Fokas
  • Rita Engenhart-Cabillic
  • Kiriakos Daniilidis
  • Frank Rose
  • Han-Xiang An


The metastatic spread of tumor cells to distant sites represents the major cause of cancer-related deaths. Cancer metastasis involves a series of complex interactions between tumor cells and microenvironment that influence its biological effectiveness and facilitate tumor cell arrest to distant organs. More than a century since Paget developed the theory of seed and soil, the enigma of tissue specificity observed in metastatic colonization of tumor cells begins to unfold itself. The advent of new technologies has led to the discovery of novel molecules and pathways that confer metastasis-associated properties to the cancer cells, mediating organ specificity and unique genetic signatures have been developed using microarray studies. Future clinical studies and new antimetastatic compounds aiming to improve survival of patients with metastasis will most probably be based on these signatures. This review summarizes the plethora of old and new molecules that are strongly correlated with organ-specific metastases and which provide now an identity to the theory of seed and soil.


Organ-specific metastasis Colonization Seed and soil Genetic signature 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emmanouil Fokas
    • 1
  • Rita Engenhart-Cabillic
    • 1
  • Kiriakos Daniilidis
    • 2
  • Frank Rose
    • 1
  • Han-Xiang An
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Radiotherapy and Radiation Oncology, University Hospital MarburgMedical Faculty of Philipps University MarburgMarburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University Hospital MarburgMedical Faculty of Philipps University MarburgMarburgGermany

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