Stochastic elimination of cancer cells

Franziska Michor, Martin A. Nowak, Steven A. Frank, Yoh Iwasa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Tissues of multicellular organisms consist of stem cells and differentiated cells. Stem cells divide to produce new stem cells or differentiated cells. Differentiated cells divide to produce new differentiated cells. We show that such a tissue design can reduce the rate of fixation of mutations that increase the net proliferation rate of cells. It has, however, no consequence for the rate of fixation of neutral mutations. We calculate the optimum relative abundance of stem cells that minimizes the rate of generating cancer cells. There is a critical fraction of stem cell divisions that is required for a stochastic elimination ('wash out') of cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2017-2024
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1528
Publication statusPublished - Oct 7 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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