Many cancer investigations have focussed on the eradication of the cancer cell itself and in doing so, overlook the inherent complexity and heterogeneity of solid tumors. Here, we argue that, in many cases, it is the altered communication within the tumor, rather than mutations per se, that is the defining characteristic of cancer. As a result, tumorigenesis can be indirectly initiated by environmental or inherited factors that affect the stromal cells. We propose that anticancer research might be more effective if aimed at eradicating the cause of abnormality rather than just treating the end result.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.