Indexed on: 22 Jul '19Published on: 18 Apr '19Published in: Cancer discovery
With advances in technology and bioinformatics, we are now positioned to view and manage cancer through an evolutionary lens. This perspective is critical as our appreciation for the role of tumor heterogeneity, tumor immune compartment, and tumor microenvironment on cancer pathogenesis and evolution grows. Here, we explore recent knowledge on the evolutionary basis of cancer pathogenesis and progression, viewing tumors as multilineage, multicomponent organisms whose growth is regulated by subcomponent fitness relationships. We propose reconsidering some current tenets of the cancer management paradigm in order to take better advantage of crucial fitness relationships to improve outcomes of patients with cancer. Tumor and tumor immune compartment and microenvironment heterogeneity, and their evolution, are critical disease features that affect treatment response. The impact and interplay of these components during treatment are viable targets to improve clinical response. In this article, we consider how tumor cells, the tumor immune compartment and microenvironment, and epigenetic factors interact and also evolve during treatment. We evaluate the convergence of these factors and suggest innovative treatment concepts that leverage evolutionary relationships to limit tumor growth and drug resistance. ©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.