The main cause of cancer-associated mortality is due to metastasis, formation of secondary tumors at distant sites. A critical step in metastases formation is invasion of cancer cells through surrounding tissue. The Weihs research group have previously shown that a subset of metastatic cells are mechanically invasive and will indent physiological stiffness, synthetic, impenetrable gels while benign cells do not indent. The indentations occur rapidly and are measurable within 1-2 hours from cell seeding. We have shown that the cells’ mechanical invasiveness is related to the metastatic potential of the sample and can be determined by the number of indenting cells and their attained depths.
In the current research, we have evaluated the agreement between our mechanical invasiveness assay and the clinical outcome of fresh, human skin cancer samples. We compare the indentations induced by tumor-cells with the pathological results and the long-term clinical outcome in patients. We demonstrate the ability of the mechanical invasiveness assay to rapidly differentiate between Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) and can identify secondary processes such as desmoplasia (neoplasm-associated fibrosis) or high likelihood of local invasiveness or potential metastasis.