Cancer immunosurveillance and immunoediting: the roles of immunity in suppressing tumor development and shaping tumor immunogenicity

Adv Immunol. 2006:90:1-50. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2776(06)90001-7.


Cellular transformation and tumor development result from an accumulation of mutational and epigenetic changes that alter normal cell growth and survival pathways. For the last 100 years, there has been a vigorous debate as to whether the unmanipulated immune system can detect and eliminate such altered host derived cells despite the fact that cancer cells frequently express either abnormal proteins or abnormal levels of normal cellular proteins that function as tumor antigens. In this review, we discuss the current state of this argument and point out some of the recent key experiments demonstrating that immunity not only protects the host from cancer development (i.e., provides a cancer immunosurveillance function) but also can promote tumor growth, sometimes by generating more aggressive tumors. The terminology "cancer immunoediting" has been used to describe this dual host protective and tumor promoting action of immunity, and herein we summarize the ever-increasing experimental and clinical data that support the validity of this concept.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Immunosuppression Therapy* / methods
  • Immunosuppression Therapy* / trends
  • Monitoring, Immunologic / methods*
  • Monitoring, Immunologic / trends*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / immunology
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / therapy