The Biology of Bone Metastasis.
Bone metastasis, or the development of secondary tumors within the bone of cancer patients, is a debilitating and incurable disease. Despite its morbidity, the biology of bone metastasis represents one of the most complex and intriguing of all oncogenic processes. This complexity derives from the intricately organized bone microenvironment in which the various stages of hematopoiesis, osteogenesis, and osteolysis are jointly regulated but spatially restricted. Disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) from various common malignancies such as breast, prostate, lung, and kidney cancers or myeloma are uniquely primed to subvert these endogenous bone stromal elements to grow into pathological osteolytic or osteoblastic lesions. This colonization process can be separated into three key steps: seeding, dormancy, and outgrowth. Targeting the processes of dormancy and initial outgrowth offers the most therapeutic promise. Here, we discuss the concepts of the bone metastasis niche, from controlling tumor-cell survival to growth into clinically detectable disease.