• Open Access

Cancer prevention as biomodulation: targeting the initiating stimulus and secondary adaptations


  • Priscilla A. Furth

    1. Departments of Oncology and Medicine, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University, Washington, DC and Department of Nanobiomedical Science and WCU Research Center of Nanobiomedical Science, Dankook University, Chungnam, Korea
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Priscilla A. Furth, Departments of Oncology and Medicine, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Room E520A, Research Building, Georgetown University, 3970 Reservoir Rd. NW, Washington, DC 20057. paf3@georgetown.edu


In a medical sense, biomodulation could be considered a biochemical or cellular response to a disease or therapeutic stimulus. In cancer pathophysiology, the initial oncogenic stimulus leads to cellular and biochemical changes that allow cells, tissue, and organism to accommodate and accept the oncogenic insult. In epithelial cell cancer development, the process of carcinogenesis is frequently characterized by sequential cellular and biochemical adaptations as cells transition through hyperplasia, dysplasia, atypical dysplasia, carcinoma in situ, and invasive cancer. In some cases, the adaptations may persist after the initial oncogenic stimulus is gone in a type of “hit-and-run” oncogenesis. These pathophysiological changes may interfere with cancer prevention therapies targeted solely to the initial oncogenic insult, perhaps contributing to resistance development. Characterization of these accommodating adaptations could provide insight for the development of cancer preventive regimens that might more effectively biomodulate preneoplastic cells toward a more normal state.