Does the immune reaction cause malignant transformation by disrupting cell-to-cell or cell-to-matrix communications?
Prehn, Richmond T.
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Tumor progression: In many (perhaps in all) tumor systems, a malignant cancer is preceded by a benign lesion. Most benign lesions do not transform to malignancy and many regress. The final transformative step to malignancy differs from the preceding steps in, among other things, that it often occurs in the absence of the original carcinogenic stimulus. Mechanism of immunostimulation: Relatively low titers of specific immune reactants are known to stimulate, but cell-to-cell or cell-to-matrix interactions appear to be major inhibitors of tumor-growth. Therefore, it seems reasonable to hypothesize that the mechanism of immunostimulation may be an interference with cell-to-cell or cell-to-matrix communication by a sub-lethal immune-reaction. Discussion: While the above hypothesis remains unproven, some evidence suggests that immunity may have a major facilitating effect on tumor growth especially at the time of malignant transformation. There is even some evidence suggesting that transformation in vivo may seldom occur in the absence of immunostimulation of the premalignant lesion. Positive selection by the immune reaction may be the reason that tumors are immunogenic.