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Open Access Highly Accessed Methodology

A dynamic model for tumour growth and metastasis formation

Volker Haustein* and Udo Schumacher

Author Affiliations

Institute of Anatomy and Experimental Morphology, University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistraße 52, D-20246, Hamburg, Germany

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Journal of Clinical Bioinformatics 2012, 2:11  doi:10.1186/2043-9113-2-11

Published: 1 May 2012

Abstract

A simple and fast computational model to describe the dynamics of tumour growth and metastasis formation is presented. The model is based on the calculation of successive generations of tumour cells and enables one to describe biologically important entities like tumour volume, time point of 1st metastatic growth or number of metastatic colonies at a given time. The model entirely relies on the chronology of these successive events of the metastatic cascade. The simulation calculations were performed for two embedded growth models to describe the Gompertzian like growth behaviour of tumours. The initial training of the models was carried out using an analytical solution for the size distribution of metastases of a hepatocellular carcinoma. We then show the applicability of our models to clinical data from the Munich Cancer Registry. Growth and dissemination characteristics of metastatic cells originating from cells in the primary breast cancer can be modelled thus showing its ability to perform systematic analyses relevant for clinical breast cancer research and treatment. In particular, our calculations show that generally metastases formation has already been initiated before the primary can be detected clinically.

Keywords:
Breast cancer; Computational calculations; Gompertzian growth function; Tumour growth models; Metastasis formation