Cancer as an evolutionary and ecological process

Nat Rev Cancer. 2006 Dec;6(12):924-35. doi: 10.1038/nrc2013. Epub 2006 Nov 16.


Neoplasms are microcosms of evolution. Within a neoplasm, a mosaic of mutant cells compete for space and resources, evade predation by the immune system and can even cooperate to disperse and colonize new organs. The evolution of neoplastic cells explains both why we get cancer and why it has been so difficult to cure. The tools of evolutionary biology and ecology are providing new insights into neoplastic progression and the clinical control of cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Genetic Drift
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology
  • Selection, Genetic