Journal of Theoretical Medicine
Volume 2 (2000), Issue 3, Pages 155-174

Modelling the Effect of Cell Shedding on Avascular Tumour Growth

Department of Theoretical Mechanics, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK

Received 29 January 1998; Accepted 28 July 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.


Earlier mathematical models of the authors which describe avascular tumour growth are extended to incorporate the process of cell shedding, a feature known to affect the growth of multicell spheroids. A continuum of live cells is assumed within which, depending on the concentration of a generic nutrient, movement (described by a velocity field) occurs due to volume changes caused by cell birth and death. The necrotic material is assumed to contain a mixture of basic cellular material (assumed necessary for creating new cells) and a non-utilisable material which may inhibit mitosis. The rate of cell shedding is taken to be proportional to the mitotic rate, with constant of proportionality θ. Numerical solutions of the resulting system of partial differential equations indicate that, depending on θ and the initial conditions, the solution may either tend to the trivial state in finite time (by which we mean complete death of the tumour), or to one of two non-trivial states, namely a steady-state (indicating growth saturation) or a travelling wave (indicating continual linear growth). These long time outcomes are explored by deriving the travelling wave and steady-state limits of the model. Numerical solutions demonstrate that there are two branches of solutions, which we have termed the ′Major′ and ′Minor′ branches, consisting of both travelling waves and steady-states. The behaviour of the solutions along each branch is discussed, with those of the Major branch expected to be stable. Beyond some critical θ,where the Major and Minor branches merge, the spheroid ultimately vanishes whatever the initial tumour size due to the effects of cell shedding being too strong for it to survive. The regions of existence of the two long time outcomes are investigated in parameter space, cell shedding being shown to expand significantly the parameter ranges within which growth saturation occurs.