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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Effects of radiation on metastasis and tumor cell migration


It is well known that tumor cells migrate from the primary lesion to distant sites to form metastases and that these lesions limit patient outcome in a majority of cases. However, the extent to which radiation influences this process and to which migration in turn alters radiation response remains controversial. There are preclinical and clinical reports showing that focal radiotherapy can both increase the development of distant metastasis, as well as that it can induce the regression of established metastases through the abscopal effect. More recently, preclinical studies have suggested that radiation can attract migrating tumor cells and may, thereby, facilitate tumor recurrence. In this review, we summarize these phenomena and their potential mechanisms of action, and evaluate their significance for modern radiation therapy strategies.

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