The milieu of cytokines by which cells within tissues and organism modify their collective behavior plays a key role to change cancer processes. Cytokines both guard the bodies immune response against cancer or they are directly involved in pathogenesis of oncologic processes. Cytokines control for example core cancer pathways such as RAS/RAF, PI3K-PTEN-mTOR or JAK-STAT signaling, they change cell invasion, cell adhesion or DNA damage response. Moreover, cytokines are crucial in regulation of survival and control of G1-S progression or they are dominant factors to execute or prevent senescence. Importantly, cytokine action can be a cancer driver or a cancer cell blocker, often incompletely understood and dependent on the cancer type associated with microenvrionmental signaling pathways. We are starting to recognize that cytokines can affect the sensitivity of cancers to drug treatment, often by a complex cancer cell-stroma cell interaction. Moreover, the status of the cytokine response in an affected individual has an impact on overall patient prognosis. Recent advances in the field uncovered a critical novel role of inflammatory cytokines such as interleukins and interferons produced in the tumor microenvironment in stimulation or inhibition of disease progression. These advances demonstrated that cytokines are involved in many aspects of tumor development and progression, most important for regulation of cell autonomous growth and apoptosis, control of angiogenesis and immune reactions against tumor cells.
We are aware that a phenotypic focus is characteristic for other existing conferences (including those focused on cancer or cytokines in general or on individual inflammatory cytokines), but we feel that there is a specific unmet need for a summit on the signaling mechanisms that mediate cancer-related function of cytokines either in cancer cells or within the microenvironment or associated with cancer noxias such as DNA damaging agents, infectious disease or aging related processes. The proposed Aegean conference on the cytokine signaling in cancer should fill this gap and bring together outstanding experts in the area and enable exchange the information and ideas important for improving our understanding of cancer etiology and pathogenesis. This should pave roads towards design of novel anti-cancer therapeutic modalities.