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Abstract

Recently, a view of the tumor as a functional tissue interconnected with the microenvironment has recently been described. For many years, the stroma has been studied in the context of the malignant lesion, and only rarely has its role been considered before carcinogenic lesions appear. Recent studies have provided evidence that stromal cells and their products can cause the transformation of adjacent cells through transient signaling that leads to the disruption of homeostatic regulation, including control of tissue architecture, adhesion, cell death, and proliferation. It is now well established that tumor progression requires a continually evolving network of interactions between neoplastic cells and extracellular matrix. A relevant step of this process is the remodeling of microenvironment which surrounds tumors leading to the release of ECM-associated growth factors which can then stimulate tumor and/or endothelial cells. Finally, tumor cells reorganizing the extracellular matrix to facilitate communications and escape the homeostatic control exerted by the microenvironment modify response to cytotoxic treatments. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.