"Tumor Growth and Biomechanics – Challenges & Opportunities"
Physical forces are recognized to play a critical role in shaping the micro-environment of tumors. Compression of cancer and stromal cells, as well as blood and lymphatic vessels, are direct consequences of mechanical solid stress, the compressive and tensile mechanical forces exerted by the solid components of the tissue. By altering the mechanical micro-environment of tumors, elevated solid stress can affect their pathophysiology, driving tumors to more aggressive phenotypes and compromise therapeutic outcome . Mechanical stress also affects healthy tissue: It causes neuronal loss in brain tissue, and is linked to neurological deficits and reduced survival in patients with glioblastoma (GBM), the most common malignant primary brain tumor in adults. Given their far-reaching micro- and macroscopic consequences, tumor-induced mechanical forces may provide mechanistic insights into inter and intra-tumor heterogeneities, differential response to treatment and other phenotypical characteristics.
In this contribution, we survey the literature of spatial tumor growth modeling from a perspective of macroscopic tissue mechanics to assess the current status of mechanically-coupled growth models and to identify opportunities for further research: We summarize the types of modeling approaches previously used for capturing tumor-induced mechanical effects and their biological or physiological consequences. Based on this review, we identify the scenarios in which accounting for tissue mechanics proved to improve calibration to and prediction of clinical data. Drawing from examples of our and others’ research on mechanically-coupled growth modeling for GBM, we discuss challenges involved in the implementation and calibration of such models. In this context, we identify areas of mechanically-coupled growth modeling where further research is needed and explore application opportunities that such models may open.