Dr. Spector on the Importance of Tumor Microenvironments

Dr. Neil Spector, from Duke Cancer Institute, Emphasizes the Importance of Studying Tumor Microenvironments

Neil L. Spector, MD, co-director, Experimental Therapeutics, Duke Cancer Institute, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, discusses the need for cancer researchers to investigate the entire system and tumor microenvironment.

Studying the genomics of a tumor must advance to include the abnormalities in the entire system. In some cases the microenvironment may be offering the fertile ground that a tumor needs to grow. As an example, Spector notes that a cancerous cell containing multiple mutations can be planted in a healthy microenvironment and the malignant cells will not grow. This places extreme importance on understanding how the entire system affects the tumor.

An example of a systemic effect on the tumor is the immune system. Understanding the immune system’s effect on the tumor may answer many of the questions about how tumors grow and respond to chemotherapy and targeted therapies.