Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of the Tumor Stroma in Colorectal Cancer: Insights into Disease Progression and Therapeutic Targets
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a major health burden worldwide and is the third most common type of cancer. The early detection and diagnosis of CRC is critical to improve patient outcomes. This review explores the intricate interplay between the tumor microenvironment, stromal interactions, and the progression and metastasis of colorectal cancer. The review begins by assessing the gut microbiome’s influence on CRC development, emphasizing its association with gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). The role of the Wnt signaling pathway in CRC tumor stroma is scrutinized, elucidating its impact on disease progression. Tumor budding, its effect on tumor stroma, and the implications for patient prognosis are investigated. The review also identifies conserved oncogenic signatures (COS) within CRC stroma and explores their potential as therapeutic targets. Lastly, the seed and soil hypothesis is employed to contextualize metastasis, accentuating the significance of both tumor cells and the surrounding stroma in metastatic propensity. This review highlights the intricate interdependence between CRC cells and their microenvironment, providing valuable insights into prospective therapeutic approaches targeting tumor–stroma interactions.