Disseminated Tumor Cells
A metastatic lesion starts as a disseminated tumor cell.
The Pienta laboratory focuses on how and why cancer cells spread throughout the body - we have termed this the cancer diaspora. Many cancer cells leave the primary tumor and enter the circulation - these are termed circulation tumor cells (CTCs). The majority of CTCs do not successfully metastasize - the few CTCs that successfully land at a distant organ and establish there are termed DTCs. By studying DTCs, we are trying to determine the characteristics of cancer cells that can successfully metastasize and ultimately hurt the patient by growing in new places in the body.