The field of hematopoietic oncology has traditionally focused on the study of hematopoietic cell autonomous genetic events in an effort to understand malignant transformation and develop therapeutics. Although highly rewarding in both aspects, this cell autonomous approach has failed to fully satisfy our need to understand tumor cell behavior and related clinical observations. In recent years, it has been increasingly recognized that the tumor microenvironment plays a pivotal role in cancer initiation and progression. This review will discuss recent experimental evidence in support of this view derived from investigations in both epithelial and hematopoietic systems. Based on this, conceptual views and therapeutic implications will be provided on the emerging role of the bone marrow microenvironment in leukemogenesis.

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam