Immune cells in the tumor microenvironment have an important role in regulating tumor progression. Therefore, stimulating immune reactions to tumors can be an attractive therapeutic and prevention strategy. Cancer cells and host cells constantly interact with each other in the tumor microenvironment; thus, cancer immunology is an interdisciplinary area where integrated analysis of both host and tumor factors is needed. Cancer represents a heterogeneous group of diseases with different genetic and epigenetic alterations; therefore, molecular classification of cancer (for example lung, prostate and breast cancers) is an important component in clinical decision making. However, most studies on antitumor immunity and clinical outcome lack analysis of tumor molecular biomarkers. In this Review, we discuss colorectal cancer as a prototypical example of cancer. Common molecular classifiers of colon cancer include KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA mutations, microsatellite instability, LINE-1 methylation, and CpG island methylator phenotype. Since tumor molecular features and immune reactions are inter-related, a comprehensive assessment of these factors is critical. Examining the effects of tumor-host interactions on clinical outcome and prognosis represents an evolving interdisciplinary field of molecular pathological epidemiology. Pathological immunity evaluation may provide information on prognosis and help identify patients who are more likely to benefit from immunotherapy.