Evolving concepts of tumor heterogeneity

Victoria R. Zellmer, Siyuan Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Past and recent findings on tumor heterogeneity have led clinicians and researchers to broadly define cancer development as an evolving process. This evolutionary model of tumorigenesis has largely been shaped by seminal reports of fitness-promoting mutations conferring a malignant cellular phenotype. Despite the major clinical and intellectual advances that have resulted from studying heritable heterogeneity, it has long been overlooked that compositional tumor heterogeneity and tumor microenvironment (TME)-induced selection pressures drive tumor evolution, significantly contributing to tumor development and outcomes of clinical cancer treatment. In this review, we seek to summarize major milestones in tumor evolution, identify key aspects of tumor heterogeneity in a TME-dependent evolutionary context, and provide insights on the clinical challenges facing researchers and clinicians alike.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number69
JournalCell and Bioscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 25 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer stem cell
  • Omic analysis and personalized therapy
  • Tumor evolution
  • Tumor heterogeneity
  • Tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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