Inflammation and immune surveillance in cancer

Semin Cancer Biol. 2012 Feb;22(1):23-32. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2011.12.004. Epub 2011 Dec 24.


Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for tumor development. However, understanding the effect of the immune system on tumor development has only been significantly advanced over the past two decades. We now appreciate that the immune system, in addition to tumor-suppressive function by eliminating nascent transformed tumor cells, can also exert selection pressure on tumor cells and facilitate tumor growth by providing a favorable tumor microenvironment. Yet, the distinctions between tumor-promoting inflammation and tumor-suppressive immunity are still not clear due to the dual role of some cytokines and other molecules in the immune system. The danger signal hypothesis has shaped our view of the role of immunity in cancer development, but still little is known about the exact role of danger signal receptors in cancer progression. In this review, we introduce the processes of cancer immunoediting and inflammation-induced cancer and discuss what is currently known about the role of danger signal receptors in cancer development and progression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Disease Progression
  • HMGB1 Protein
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Immunologic Surveillance / physiology*
  • Inflammasomes / physiology*
  • Inflammation / complications*
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology*


  • Cytokines
  • HMGB1 Protein
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Inflammasomes
  • Toll-Like Receptors