Tumor heterogeneity and consequences for bladder cancer treatment

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14 Scopus citations


Acquired therapeutic resistance remains a major challenge in cancer management and associates with poor oncological outcomes in most solid tumor types. A major contributor is tumor heterogeneity (TH) which can be influenced by the stromal; immune and epithelial tumor compartments. We hypothesize that heterogeneity in tumor epithelial subpopulations—whether de novo or newly acquired—closely regulate the clinical course of bladder cancer. Changes in these subpopulations impact the tumor microenvironment including the extent of immune cell infiltration and response to immunotherapeutics. Mechanisms driving epithelial tumor heterogeneity (EpTH) can be broadly categorized as mutational and non-mutational. Mechanisms regulating lineage plasticity; acquired cellular mutations and changes in lineage-defined subpopulations regulate stress responses to clinical therapies. If tumor heterogeneity is a dynamic process; an increased understanding of how EpTH is regulated is critical in order for clinical therapies to be more sustained and durable. In this review and analysis, we assess the importance and regulatory mechanisms governing EpTH in bladder cancer and the impact on treatment response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5297
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Bladder cancer
  • Intratumoral heterogeneity
  • Plasticity
  • Treatment resistance
  • Tumoral heterogeneity


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