Simulating tumor growth in confined heterogeneous environments

Jana L. Gevertz, George T. Gillies, Salvatore Torquato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The holy grail of computational tumor modeling is to develop a simulation tool that can be utilized in the clinic to predict neoplastic progression and propose individualized optimal treatment strategies. In order to develop such a predictive model, one must account for many of the complex processes involved in tumor growth. One interaction that has not been incorporated into computational models of neoplastic progression is the impact that organ-imposed physical confinement and heterogeneity have on tumor growth. For this reason, we have taken a cellular automaton algorithm that was originally designed to simulate spherically symmetric tumor growth and generalized the algorithm to incorporate the effects of tissue shape and structure. We show that models that do not account for organ/tissue geometry and topology lead to false conclusions about tumor spread, shape and size. The impact that confinement has on tumor growth is more pronounced when a neoplasm is growing close to, versus far from, the confining boundary. Thus, any clinical simulation tool of cancer progression must not only consider the shape and structure of the organ in which a tumor is growing, but must also consider the location of the tumor within the organ if it is to accurately predict neoplastic growth dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number036010
JournalPhysical Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Cell Biology


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