The loss of epithelial differentiation in carcinomas, which is accompanied by increased mobility and invasiveness of the tumour cells, is often a consequence of reduced intercellular adhesion. Recent reports have indicated that the primary cause for the 'scattering' of the cells in invasive carcinomas is a disturbance of the integrity of intercellular junctions often involving the cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin. It has also been suggested that during invasion, carcinoma cells convert to a sort of mesenchymal stage, as do normal epithelial cells during development. Permanent and transient molecular mechanisms lead to the impairment of junction integrity of epithelial cells and thus to the progression of carcinomas towards a more invasive state