The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays a critical role in embryonic development. EMT is also involved in cancer progression and metastasis and it is probable that a common molecular mechanism is shared by these processes. Cancer cells undergoing EMT can acquire invasive properties and enter the surrounding stroma, resulting in the creation of a favorable microenvironment for cancer progression and metastasis. Furthermore, the acquisition of EMT features has been associated with chemoresistance which could give rise to recurrence and metastasis after standard chemotherapeutic treatment. Thus, EMT could be closely involved in carcinogenesis, invasion, metastasis, recurrence, and chemoresistance. Research into EMT and its role in cancer pathogenesis has progressed rapidly and it is now hypothesized that novel concepts such as cancer stem cells and microRNA could be involved in EMT. However, the involvement of EMT varies greatly among cancer types, and much remains to be learned. In this review, we present recent findings regarding the involvement of EMT in cancer progression and metastasis and provide a perspective from clinical and translational viewpoints.
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