Immune-mediated dormancy: an equilibrium with cancer

J Leukoc Biol. 2008 Oct;84(4):988-93. doi: 10.1189/jlb.1107774. Epub 2008 May 30.


This brief review discusses the role of the immune system in tumor development, covering a history of cancer immunity and a summary of the concept of cancer immunoediting, including its three phases: elimination, equilibrium, and escape. The latter half of this review then focuses specifically on the equilibrium phase, making note of previous work, suggesting that immunity might maintain cancer in a dormant state, and concluding with a description of a tractable mouse model unequivocally demonstrating that immunity can indeed hold preformed cancer in check. These findings form a framework for future studies aimed at validating immune-mediated cancer dormancy in humans with the hopes of devising new, immunotherapeutic strategies to treat established cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Immune System*
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interleukin-12 / immunology
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Tumor Escape / immunology*


  • Interleukin-12
  • Interferon-gamma