Distant metastases are the leading cause of breast cancer-
related deaths. Early tumor cell dissemination as the
first step in the metastatic cascade can be detected in
breast cancer patients using sensitive assays. Clinical
studies demonstrated that the presence of disseminated
tumor cells in bone marrow identified with immunocytochemical
assays at primary diagnosis is a strong prognostic
factor indicating a biologic relevance of these
cells. However, the molecular basis enabling malignant
cells to grow out as manifest metastasis are still not fully
understood. In this context, considerable progress has
been made by analyzing distinct gene function in the
metastatic cascade as well as in establishing gene expression
signatures which are able to classify the risk of
developing organ-specific metastases. Here, we briefly
describe and discuss new aspects of these topics presented
at the 28th San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium
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