Metastatic lymph nodes can be the source of distant metastases in mouse models of cancer
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A study by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators finds that, in mouse models, cancer cells from metastatic lymph nodes can escape into the circulation by invading nodal blood vessels, leading to the development of metastases in other parts of the body. Their report appearing in the March 23 issue of Science adds evidence to the debate regarding the role of lymph node metastases in the spread of cancer.

“When cancer cells spread in the body, often the first place they travel is the lymph node that drains the site of the primary tumor, but there has been controversy around the ability of cells from the lymph nodes to spread to organs such as the lung, liver, bone and brain — sites where the spread of cancer is often fatal,” says Timothy Padera, PhD, of the Steele Laboratories for Tumor Biology in the MGH Department of Radiation Oncology, senior author of the paper. “We directly showed that cancer cells that first spread to lymph nodes can invade blood vessels perfusing the nodes to become a source of tumors that grow in distant organs.”

To investigate whether cancer cells from lymph node metastases can spread to other organs, the researchers labeled

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