Historically, the word cancer is derived from the Latin cancer, as the red swollen arteries
near a tumor reminded the physician Galenus and his fellow Romans of a red crab. Currently, cancer
remains the disease to beat as it remains a leading cause of death worldwide (WHO). Tumors do not
simply consist of cancer cells, as they can recruit normal cells, which will form the tumor-associated
stroma. These stromal cells together with the extracellular matrix, constitute the tumor microenvironment.
Reciprocal communication between tumor-associated stromal cells and cancer cells is important
for the induction of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and invasion. A detailed knowledge
of this communication can spark the development of novel therapeutic strategies aimed at tackling yet
unaddressed regulators of invasion and thus metastasis. Therefore, this review will focus not only on
epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and invasion, but also on communication between tumor cells,
in particular colon cancer cells, and their stroma, with a primordial focus on cancer-associated fibroblasts,
and lastly this review will discuss how this communication can affect the cancer cell’s ability
to invade its surroundings and form metastases.
Keywords: Cancer, myofibroblast, cancer-associated fibroblast, colon cancer, extracellular matrix, intercellular communication,
invasion, tumor microenvironment.
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