Transport of drugs from blood vessels to tumour tissue

Mark W. Dewhirst, Timothy W. Secomb

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

467 Scopus citations


The effectiveness of anticancer drugs in treating a solid tumour is dependent on delivery of the drug to virtually all cancer cells in the tumour. The distribution of drug in tumour tissue depends on the plasma pharmacokinetics, the structure and function of the tumour vasculature and the transport properties of the drug as it moves through microvessel walls and in the extravascular tissue. The aim of this Review is to provide a broad, balanced perspective on the current understanding of drug transport to tumour cells and on the progress in developing methods to enhance drug delivery. First, the fundamental processes of solute transport in blood and tissue by convection and diffusion are reviewed, including the dependence of penetration distance from vessels into tissue on solute binding or uptake in tissue. The effects of the abnormal characteristics of tumour vasculature and extravascular tissue on these transport properties are then discussed. Finally, methods for overcoming limitations in drug transport and thereby achieving improved therapeutic results are surveyed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)738-750
Number of pages13
JournalNature Reviews Cancer
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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