Tumor-infiltrating immune cells and prognosis: the potential link between conventional cancer therapy and immunity

Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2011 May 1;236(5):567-79. doi: 10.1258/ebm.2011.011007. Epub 2011 Apr 12.


Numerous studies have now documented a link between the immune infiltrate in several human carcinoma types and prognosis and response to therapy. The most comprehensive of these studies were in colorectal cancer with similar conclusions by numerous groups. Analyses of immune infiltrate of several other carcinoma types also showed general correlations between immune infiltrate and prognosis, but with some conflicting results. This review will attempt to summarize the current state of this field and point out what factors may be responsible for some of the conflicting findings. Nonetheless, the breadth of reports drawing similar conclusions for some cancer cell types leads one to more seriously consider the link between immune cell infiltrate and tumor prognosis and/or response to therapy, and the potential for combining conventional cancer therapy with active immunotherapy employing therapeutic cancer vaccines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Immunity / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Prognosis