It is becoming more and more apparent that monolayer cultures of tumor cells cannot completely represent the characteristics of three-dimensional solid tumors. Consequently, the multicellular tumor spheroid model, which is of intermediate complexity between in vivo tumors and monolayer cultures, was developed. In this review, the major similarities between spheroids and solid tumors are discussed. After a brief survey of the different spheroid culturing techniques, the general morphological and growth characteristics of these systems are examined and compared to solid tumors. Finally, selected studies regarding the use of tumor spheroids to examine cell response to antineoplastic agents and radiation, cell death including both necrosis and apoptosis and cell adhesion in spheroids are reviewed.

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