Cancer Latency and Dormancy, February 28th
Cancer cells often remain quiescent for years of even decades. This fundamental, and still mysterious, property of cancer is the subject of the next workshop. Latency refers to the fact that cancer cells, or even small tumors of the sort that are detected in screening programs, may never progress to cause clinical symptoms. Dormancy describes the well-known phenomenon that, following the removal of a primary tumor, the same cancer may reappear years later in a more malignant form. Cancer latency and dormancy offer a clear challenge to the physical science and oncology program. If cancer is stabilized in a quiescent phase as a result of certain physical parameters in the micro-environment (e.g. pH, oxygen tension, pressure), then controlling those parameters may offer a way to extend the phase. A cancer that lies latent or dormant for many decades may cease to be a serious health issue.