A quantitative theory of solid tumor growth, metabolic rate and vascularization

Alexander B. Herman, M. van Savage, Geoffrey B. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The relationships between cellular, structural and dynamical properties of tumors have traditionally been studied separately. Here, we construct a quantitative, predictive theory of solid tumor growth, metabolic rate, vascularization and necrosis that integrates the relationships between these properties. To accomplish this, we develop a comprehensive theory that describes the interface and integration of the tumor vascular network and resource supply with the cardiovascular system of the host. Our theory enables a quantitative understanding of how cells, tissues, and vascular networks act together across multiple scales by building on recent theoretical advances in modeling both healthy vasculature and the detailed processes of angiogenesis and tumor growth. The theory explicitly relates tumor vascularization and growth to metabolic rate, and yields extensive predictions for tumor properties, including growth rates, metabolic rates, degree of necrosis, blood flow rates and vessel sizes. Besides these quantitative predictions, we explain how growth rates depend on capillary density and metabolic rate, and why similar tumors grow slower and occur less frequently in larger animals, shedding light on Peto's paradox. Various implications for potential therapeutic strategies and further research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22973
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 29 2011
Externally publishedYes


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