Cutaneous melanoma dissemination is dependent on the malignant cell properties and factors of intercellular crosstalk in the cancer microenvironment (Review)

Int J Oncol. 2020 Sep;57(3):619-630. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2020.5090. Epub 2020 Jun 26.


The incidence of cutaneous malignant melanoma has been steadily increasing worldwide for several decades. This phenomenon seems to follow the trend observed in many types of malignancies caused by multiple significant factors, including ageing. Despite the progress in cutaneous malignant melanoma therapeutic options, the curability of advanced disease after metastasis represents a serious challenge for further research. In this review, we summarise data on the microenvironment of cutaneous malignant melanoma with emphasis on intercellular signalling during the disease progression. Malignant melanocytes with features of neural crest stem cells interact with non‑malignant populations within this microenvironment. We focus on representative bioactive factors regulating this intercellular crosstalk. We describe the possible key factors and signalling cascades responsible for the high complexity of the melanoma microenvironment and its premetastatic niches. Furthermore, we present the concept of melanoma early becoming a systemic disease. This systemic effect is presented as a background for the new horizons in the therapy of cutaneous melanoma.

Keywords: melanoma; cancer microenvironment; cancer-associated fibroblast; cytokine; chemokine; growth factor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Cell Communication*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Melanocytes / pathology
  • Melanoma / secondary*
  • Mice
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Tumor Microenvironment*