Public Release: 

A new theoretical model of tumor growth and metastasis based on differences in tissue pressure

HFSP Publishing

The HFSP Journal, the interdisciplinary journal for scientists conducting high quality, innovative research at the interface between biology and the physical sciences is pleased to announce that the latest article modelling of tumor growth and metastasis in now available online at

The progression of cancer is a multi-step process. Over 80% of malignant tumors are carcinomas that originate in epithelial tissues from where they invade the connective tissue. At some point, subpopulations of cells may detach from the primary tumor and spread via the bloodstream and the lymphatic system. Some of them give rise to metastases in distant organs.

The metastatic cascade is a very inefficient process, as only one in about a thousand cells that leave the primary tumor goes on to form a macroscopic secondary tumor. The main contribution to metastatic inefficiency arises from the failure of cancerous cells to grow inside invaded organs. Metastatic tumors also show preferential growth in different organs. Hence, the efficiency of the metastatic process depends on specific interactions between the invading cancer cells and the local organ tissues.

In an Article published on the HFSP Journal website, Risler, Prost and Joanny from Institut Curie in Paris suggest that this is due to a difference of pressure between tumor cells and the host tissue. Combining the laws of mechanics and the biological state of homeostasis, the authors propose that every biological tissue regulates to a preferred pressure called homeostatic pressure, and that an increased homeostatic pressure is a generic trait of neoplastic tissues. This property can drive tumour growth at the expense of the host tissue. Metastases account for the majority of patients' deaths due to cancer, and thus understanding the metastatic process is of critical importance.


Markus Basan, Thomas Risler, Jean-Francois Joanny, Xavier Sastre-Garau and Jacques Prost, Homeostatic competition drives tumor growth and metastasis nucleation, HFSP Journal (2009), doi: 10.2976/1.3086732

About HFSP Journal

The HFSP Journal is operated by HFSP Publishing, a not-for-profit publisher founded by the International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO), which has been supporting innovative research at the frontiers of biology since its establishment in 1989. The Journal publishes primary research articles as well as commentaries and perspectives which provide an interdisciplinary context to the articles and encourage broader understanding and synthesis of the results. All members of the Editorial Board are actively involved in interdisciplinary research and are dedicated to a truly multidisciplinary review process which will insure that the very best research is published.

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