Cooperation among cancer cells: applying game theory to cancer

Marco Archetti, Kenneth J. Pienta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Cell cooperation promotes many of the hallmarks of cancer via the secretion of diffusible factors that can affect cancer cells or stromal cells in the tumour microenvironment. This cooperation cannot be explained simply as the collective action of cells for the benefit of the tumour because non-cooperative subclones can constantly invade and free-ride on the diffusible factors produced by the cooperative cells. A full understanding of cooperation among the cells of a tumour requires methods and concepts from evolutionary game theory, which has been used successfully in other areas of biology to understand similar problems but has been underutilized in cancer research. Game theory can provide insights into the stability of cooperation among cells in a tumour and into the design of potentially evolution-proof therapies that disrupt this cooperation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-117
Number of pages8
JournalNature Reviews Cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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