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There is a general consensus that cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions determine, at least in part, the behaviour of colon cancer. The biological mediators responsible for these interactions are cell adhesion molecules belonging to several major receptor families called integrins, cadherins, the immunoglobulin superfamily, hyaluronate receptors and mucins. Emerging data indicate that certain patterns of adhesion receptor expression are associated with more aggressive disease. The present review examines the role of each of the receptor families in the development and progression of large bowel cancer.