Despite successive advances in clinical diagnosis and therapeutic intervention, cancer-associated morbidity and mortality keeps up with escalating cost to human society. Clinicians are confronted with an unprecedented challenge in curing cancers with de novo or acquired resistance. Failure to achieve effective and long-lasting treatment effects arises from the complexity of malignancies, particularly when plasticity of cancer cells is coupled with survival adaptability conferred by the pathologically co-opted stroma in the tumor microenvironment (TME). Targeting immune checkpoints, such as programmed cell death 1 (PD-1), programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) and cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA4), provide significant benefit in multiple tumor types and produce substantial anticancer responses. Tissue resident stromal cells, although damaged together with cancer cells upon cytotoxic treatments, represent an ever-replenishing source that contributes to tumor restoration from residual cancer cells in the post-therapy stage. The TME displays a continually changing landscape, generating significant impacts on treatment outcome in clinics. Moving forward, implementing patient-specific analysis in clinical oncology with TME-oriented agents will significantly improve the specificity and efficacy of targeted therapies, thereby accelerating the translation of novel conceptions and groundbreaking discoveries in the TME biology through multiple bench-to-bed pipelines in current settings of precision cancer medicine.
Part of the book: Patient Centered Medicine