Journal of Theoretical Medicine
Volume 2 (2000), Issue 2, Pages 129-154

Mathematical Modelling of Tumour Invasion and Metastasis

1Department of Mathematics, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 4HN, Scotland
2Department of Surgery and Molecular Oncology, University of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee DD1 957, Scotland

Received 1 April 1999; Accepted 10 August 1999

Copyright © 2000 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In this paper we present two types of mathematical model which describe the invasion of host tissue by tumour cells. In the models, we focus on three key variables implicated in the invasion process, namely, tumour cells, host tissue (extracellular matrix) and matrix-degradative enzymes associated with the tumour cells. The first model focusses on the macro-scale structure (cell population level) and considers the tumour as a single mass. The mathematical model consists of a system of partial differential equations describing the production and/or activation of degradative enzymes by the tumour cells, the degradation of the matrix and the migratory response of the tumour cells. Numerical simulations are presented in one and two space dimensions and compared qualitatively with experimental and clinical observations. The second type of model focusses on the micro-scale (individual cell) level and uses a discrete technique developed in previous models of angiogenesis. This technique enables one to model migration and invasion at the level of individual cells and hence it is possible to examine the implications of metastatic spread. Finally, the results of the models are compared with actual clinical observations and the implications of the model for improved surgical treatment of patients are considered.