Modeling cancer’s ecological and evolutionary dynamics

Anuraag Bukkuri, Kenneth J. Pienta, Ian Hockett, Robert H. Austin, Emma U. Hammarlund, Sarah R. Amend, Joel S. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In this didactic paper, we present a theoretical modeling framework, called the G-function, that integrates both the ecology and evolution of cancer to understand oncogenesis. The G-function has been used in evolutionary ecology, but has not been widely applied to problems in cancer. Here, we build the G-function framework from fundamental Darwinian principles and discuss how cancer can be seen through the lens of ecology, evolution, and game theory. We begin with a simple model of cancer growth and add on components of cancer cell competition and drug resistance. To aid in exploration of eco-evolutionary modeling with this approach, we also present a user-friendly software tool. By the end of this paper, we hope that readers will be able to construct basic G function models and grasp the usefulness of the framework to understand the games cancer plays in a biologically mechanistic fashion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109
JournalMedical Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


  • Cancer evolution
  • Eco-evolutionary dynamics
  • Evolutionary game theory
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Resistance


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