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Immunity. 2004 Aug;21(2):137-48.

The immunobiology of cancer immunosurveillance and immunoediting.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Immunology, Center for Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, Box 8118, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


The last fifteen years have seen a reemergence of interest in cancer immunosurveillance and a broadening of this concept into one termed cancer immunoediting. The latter, supported by strong experimental data derived from murine tumor models and provocative correlative data obtained by studying human cancer, holds that the immune system not only protects the host against development of primary nonviral cancers but also sculpts tumor immunogenicity. Cancer immunoediting is a process consisting of three phases: elimination (i.e., cancer immunosurveillance), equilibrium, and escape. Herein, we summarize the data supporting the existence of each of the three cancer immunoediting phases. The full understanding of the immunobiology of cancer immunosurveillance and immunoediting will hopefully stimulate development of more effective immunotherapeutic approaches to control and/or eliminate human cancers.

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