Cancer as an overhealing wound: an old hypothesis revisited

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2008 Aug;9(8):628-38. doi: 10.1038/nrm2455. Epub 2008 Jul 16.


What is the relationship between the wound-healing process and the development of cancer? Malignant tumours often develop at sites of chronic injury, and tissue injury has an important role in the pathogenesis of malignant disease, with chronic inflammation being the most important risk factor. The development and functional characterization of genetically modified mice that lack or overexpress genes that are involved in repair, combined with gene-expression analysis in wounds and tumours, have highlighted remarkable similarities between wound repair and cancer. However, a few crucial differences were also observed, which could account for the altered metabolism, impaired differentiation capacity and invasive growth of malignant tumours.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cicatrix / pathology
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology
  • Fibrin / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / physiology
  • Wound Healing / genetics
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • Fibrin