The hypoxic tumour microenvironment, patient selection and hypoxia-modifying treatments

Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2007 Aug;19(6):385-96. doi: 10.1016/j.clon.2007.03.001. Epub 2007 Apr 12.


Tumour hypoxia has been found to be a characteristic feature in many solid tumours. It has been shown to decrease the therapeutic efficacy of radiation treatment, surgery and some forms of chemotherapy. Successful approaches have been developed to counteract this resistance mechanism, although usually at the cost of increased short- and long-term side-effects. New methods for qualitative and quantitative assessment of tumour oxygenation have made it possible to establish the prognostic significance of tumour hypoxia. The ability to determine the degree and extent of hypoxia in solid tumours is not only important prognostically, but also in the selection of patients for hypoxia-modifying treatments. To provide the best attainable quality of life for individual patients it is of increasing importance that tools be developed that allow a better selection of patients for these intensified treatment strategies. Several genes and proteins involved in the response to hypoxia have been identified as potential candidates for future use in predictive assays. Although some markers and combinations have shown potential benefit and are associated with treatment outcome, their clinical usefulness needs to be validated in prospective trials. A review of published studies was carried out, focusing on the assessment of tumour hypoxia, patient selection and the possibilities to overcome hypoxia during treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / physiopathology
  • Anemia / therapy
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Carbon Dioxide / therapeutic use
  • Cell Hypoxia / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Niacinamide / therapeutic use
  • Nuclear Medicine / methods
  • Oxygen / therapeutic use
  • Patient Selection*
  • Radiation Tolerance / radiation effects
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents
  • Vitamin B Complex / therapeutic use


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Niacinamide
  • carbogen
  • Oxygen