Integrating the Tumor Microenvironment into Cancer Therapy

Cancers (Basel). 2020 Jun 24;12(6):1677. doi: 10.3390/cancers12061677.


Tumor progression is mediated by reciprocal interaction between tumor cells and their surrounding tumor microenvironment (TME), which among other factors encompasses the extracellular milieu, immune cells, fibroblasts, and the vascular system. However, the complexity of cancer goes beyond the local interaction of tumor cells with their microenvironment. We are on the path to understanding cancer from a systemic viewpoint where the host macroenvironment also plays a crucial role in determining tumor progression. Indeed, growing evidence is emerging on the impact of the gut microbiota, metabolism, biomechanics, and the neuroimmunological axis on cancer. Thus, external factors capable of influencing the entire body system, such as emotional stress, surgery, or psychosocial factors, must be taken into consideration for enhanced management and treatment of cancer patients. In this article, we review prognostic and predictive biomarkers, as well as their potential evaluation and quantitative analysis. Our overarching aim is to open up new fields of study and intervention possibilities, within the framework of an integral vision of cancer as a functional tissue with the capacity to respond to different non-cytotoxic factors, hormonal, immunological, and mechanical forces, and others inducing stroma and tumor reprogramming.

Keywords: biomarker discovery; immune therapy; mechanotransduction; metabolism; metformin; microbiota; mitochondria; prognostic tools; stromal reprogramming; vitamin D3.

Publication types

  • Review