Lymphatic Physiology and Function in Healthy Tissue and Cancer

Part of the Cancer Metastasis – Biology and Treatment book series (CMBT, volume 13)


The lymphatic system is the primary route of metastasis for many cancers, and it is this spread through the lymphatic vessels to lymph nodes and on to distant organs that is responsible for the majority of cancer-related deaths. Lymphatics, moreso than blood vessels, are thought to provide an overall favorable route for the survival and dissemination of tumor cells due to their anatomical features and low shear stress environment, but the mechanisms and physiological parameters governing lymphatic metastasis are only beginning to be understood. How cancer cells affect and gain access to local lymphatic vessels, travel within the vessels, and enter into the lymph nodes are all topics of recent research efforts, alongside questions of how tumor cells might mimic immune cells and escape the host adaptive immune response. In this chapter we cover the basic anatomy and physiology of the lymphatic system and how it relates to cancer metastasis through the lymphatics.

Key words

Flow Lymph node VEGF-C Interstitium Lymphangion Capillary Cell trafficking 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Bioengineering, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)LausanneSwitzerland

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