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Cancers (Basel). 2011 Apr 26;3(2):2160-8. doi: 10.3390/cancers3022160.

The role of tumour stroma in colorectal cancer invasion and metastasis.

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Cancer Sciences Division, Southampton University, Somers Building, Southampton General Hospital, Mailpoint 824, Tremona Road, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a major cause of mortality in western society with a 5-year survival of approximately 50%. Metastasis to the liver and lungs is the principal cause of death and occurs in up to 25% of patients at presentation. Despite advances in available techniques for treating metastases, the majority of patients remain incurable and existing adjuvant therapies such as chemotherapy are only of limited effectiveness. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the metastatic process may allow us to identify those at greatest risk of recurrence and discover new tumour targets to prevent disease progression. It is now apparent that tumour stroma plays an important role in promoting tumour progression. A pronounced desmoplastic reaction was associated with a reduced immune response and has been shown to be an independent poor prognostic indicator in CRC and cancer recurrence. Determining the cause(s) and effect(s) of this stromal response will further our understanding of tumour cell/stromal interactions, and will help us identify prognostic indicators for patients with CRC. This will not only allow us to target our existing treatments more effectively, we also aim to identify novel and more specific therapeutic targets for the treatment of CRC which will add to our current therapeutic options.

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