Inflammation is now recognized as a hallmark of cancer. Genetic changes in the cancer cell are accepted as the match that lights the fire, whilst inflammation is seen as the fuel that feeds the fire. Once inside the tumour, the immune cells secrete cytokines that kick-start angiogenesis to ferry in much-needed oxygen and nutrients that encourage the growth of tumours. There is now irrefutable data demonstrating that the immune contexture of breast tumours can influence growth and metastasis. A higher immune cell count in invasive breast cancer predicts prognosis and response to chemotherapy. We are beginning now to define the specific innate and adaptive immune cells present in breast cancer and their role not just in the progression of invasive disease, but also in the development of pre-invasive lesions and their transition to malignant tumours. This review article focusses on the immune cells present in early stage breast cancer and their relationship with the immunoediting process involved in tumour advancement.
- Breast cancer
- Immune microenvironment