Modelling the role of cell-cell adhesion in the growth and development of carcinomas

H. M. Byrne, M. A. J. Chaplain

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198 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, a mathematical model is presented to describe the evolution of an avascular solid tumour in response to an externally-supplied nutrient. The growth of the tumour depends on the balance between expansive forces caused by cell proliferation and cell-cell adhesion forces which exist to maintain the tumour's compactness. Cell-cell adhesion is incorporated into the model using the Gibbs-Thomson relation which relates the change in nutrient concentration across the tumour boundary to the local curvature, this energy being used to preserve the cell-cell adhesion forces. Our analysis focuses on the existence and uniqueness of steady, radially-symmetric solutions to the model, and also their stability to time-dependent and asymmetric perturbations. In particular, our analysis suggests that if the energy needed to preserve the bonds of adhesion is large then the radially-symmetric configuration is stable with respect to all asymmetric perturbations, and the tumour maintains a radially-symmetric structure?this corresponds to the growth of a benign tumour. As the energy needed to maintain the tumour's compactness diminishes so the number of modes to which the underlying radially-symmetric solution is unstable increases?this corresponds to the invasive growth of a carcinoma. The strength of the cell-cell bonds of adhesion may at some stage provide clinicians with a useful index of the invasive potential of a tumour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalMathematical and Computer Modelling
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1996


  • Cell adhesion
  • Cancer
  • Asymmetric tumour growth


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