Cancer dormancy: a model of early dissemination and late cancer recurrence

David Páez, Melissa J Labonte, Pierre Bohanes, Wu Zhang, Leonor Benhanim, Yan Ning, Takeru Wakatsuki, Fotios Loupakis, Heinz-Josef Lenz, Melissa LaBonte Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Citations (Scopus)


Cancer dormancy is a stage in tumor progression in which residual disease remains occult and asymptomatic for a prolonged period of time. Dormant tumor cells can be present as one of the earliest stages in tumor development, as well as a stage in micrometastases, and/or minimal residual disease left after an apparently successful treatment of the primary tumor. The general mechanisms that regulate the transition of disseminated tumor cells that have lain dormant into a proliferative state remain largely unknown. However, regulation of the growth from dormant tumor cells may be explained in part through the interaction of the tumor cell with its microenvironment, limitations in the blood supply, or an active immune system. An understanding of the regulatory machinery of these processes is essential for identifying early cancer biomarkers and could provide a rationale for the development of novel agents to target dormant tumor cells. This review focuses on the different signaling models responsible for early cancer dissemination and tumor recurrence that are involved in dormancy pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-53
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2012


  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasms
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Microenvironment

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