The role of tumor microenvironment and exosomes in dormancy and relapse

Semin Cancer Biol. 2022 Jan:78:35-44. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2021.09.008. Epub 2021 Oct 30.


Recent advancements in the field of cancer have established that the process of metastasis is organ-specific with tumor cell dissemination occurring in the very early stages of disease. Pre-metastatic niches are actively remodeled and transformed by both primary tumor specific factors and by influences from the extracellular matrix.Although improvements in cancer therapies have significantly improved outcomes in patients with early stage disease, the risk of recurrence and relapse leading to mortality remains high. Recent studies have emerged highlighting the influence of dormant tumor cells and exosomes as key players in cancer relapse. In this review we discuss the critical mediators of tumor progression and their link to cancer dormancy, while also exploring possible therapeutics for targeting relapse.

Keywords: Cancer; Dormancy; Extracellular matrix; Microenvironment; Relapse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Recurrence
  • Tumor Microenvironment*