Recently, the existence of lymph node micrometastasis, including isolated tumor cells, has been the focus of the development of molecular diagnostic tools for lymph node metastasis in various malignant neoplasms, including those of the GI tract. In this review, we summarize recent molecular biological studies that might provide two reasons to explain the survival of single isolated cancer cells in lymph nodes. One is the specific characteristics of cancer cells, which can exist under severe circumstances, along with recent technological innovations to obtain expression profiles and sequencing from a single cell. The other is microenvironmental factors that support the formation of micrometastasis even in small numbers of cancer cells. The expression profile of whole transcriptome sequencing, genomic sequencing and epigenetic sequencing of a single cancer cell with tumorigenic properties in lymph node metastases should be disclosed in the near future.
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