Spontaneous regression of residual tumour burden: prediction by Monte Carlo simulation

Jules J. Berman, G. William Moore

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Scopus citations


    Current cancer treatment protocols are designed to reduce the tumour burden down to a small number of cells. In this study, we use Monte Carlo simulations to show that small populations of cells with intrinsic cell loss rates comparable to the cell loss rates observed clinically in human tumours, may regress spontaneously. Large populations of cells tend to grow under the same conditions of cell loss that result in extinction of small clones. Furthermore, minor variations in the intrinsic cell death probability near 0.50 result in large differences in the number of surviving cells calculated at the 100th generation. When Monte Carlo simulations of clonal growth resulted in clones with large populations (>50 cells), the population as a whole behaved in a deterministic fashion (logarithmic growth) similar to those observed in clinically observed neoplasms and consistent with other published models of tumour growth. These findings provide a plausible explanation for the clinically observed failure of tumours to recur in instances where tumour burden remains following cancer therapy. The findings also demonstrate the usefulness of the Monte Carlo method to simulate biologic events in populations where the fate of each member of a population can be modeled probabilistically.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)359-368
    Number of pages10
    JournalAnalytical Cellular Pathology
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Sep 1992


    • Cell death
    • Monte Carlo
    • Tumour kinetics
    • Tumour regression

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
    • Cell Biology


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