Repopulation of cancer cells during therapy: an important cause of treatment failure

Nat Rev Cancer. 2005 Jul;5(7):516-25. doi: 10.1038/nrc1650.


Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are given in multiple doses, which are spaced out to allow the recovery of normal tissues between treatments. However, surviving cancer cells also proliferate during the intervals between treatments and this process of repopulation is an important cause of treatment failure. Strategies developed to overcome repopulation have improved clinical outcomes, and now new strategies to inhibit repopulation are emerging in parallel with advances in the understanding of underlying biological mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / radiation effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / radiation effects
  • Disease Progression
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Treatment Failure


  • Antineoplastic Agents