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The Tumor Microenvironment
A solid tumor is an ecosystem composed of tumor cells, resident and infiltrating non-tumor cells, and molecules present in proximity to these cells. This ecosystem can be collectively described as the tumor microenvironment. Both the tumor cells as well as the neighboring non-tumor cells take part in establishing the specific milieu of the microenvironment.
The notion that the tumor microenvironment plays a crucial role in cancer development and in its progression is generally accepted by the cancer research community.
“Tumor Microenvironment” is a research area comprising established concepts such as the relationship between chronic inflammation and cancer or the contribution of the stroma to tumor progression as well as novel and revolutionary paradigms such the role of bone marrow (stem?) cells to the development of pre-metastatic niches or the influence of the microenvironment on the shaping of genetic signatures of metastatic cells.
New and not so new therapy modalities have and are being developed to target tumor-microenvironment interactions. Drugs functioning to block pro-malignancy interactions, to boost anti-malignancy ones or to “normalize” the microenvironment which had been “corrupted” by the tumor are obviously of interest and harbor great potential for a better management of malignant diseases.
The International Cancer Microenvironment Society (ICMS) was established in order to create an international multidisciplinary network of scientists actively engaged in research focused on tumor-microenvironment interactions. The mission of ICMS is to be a driving force in the development of novel cancer therapy modalities that would target tumor-microenvironment interactions towards cancer therapy.