Cancer progression and outcome depend upon two key functions executed by tumor cells: the growth and survival capability leading to resistance to therapy and the invasion into host tissues resulting in local and metastatic dissemination. Although both processes are widely studied separately, the underlying cell-intrinsic and microenvironmentally controlled signaling pathways reveal substantial overlap in mechanism. Candidate signaling hubs that serve both tumor invasion and resistance include growth factor and chemokine signaling, integrin engagement, and components of the Ras/MAPKs, PI3K, and mTOR signaling pathways. In this review, we summarize these and other mechanisms controlled by the microenvironment that jointly support cancer cell survival and resistance, as well as the invasion machinery. We also discuss their interdependencies and the implications for therapeutic dual- or multi-pathway targeting.
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