TGFβ is a pleiotropic cytokine that plays critical roles to define cancer cell phenotypes, construct the tumor microenvironment, and suppress antitumor immune responses. As such, TGFβ is a lynchpin for integrating cancer cell intrinsic pathways and communication among host cells in the tumor and beyond that together affect responses to genotoxic, targeted, and immune therapy. Despite decades of preclinical and clinical studies, evidence of clinical benefit from targeting TGFβ in cancer remains elusive. Here, we review the mechanisms by which TGFβ acts to oppose successful cancer therapy, the reported prognostic and predictive value of TGFβ biomarkers, and the potential impact of inhibiting TGFβ in precision oncology. Paradoxically, the diverse mechanisms by which TGFβ impedes therapeutic response are a principal barrier to implementing TGFβ inhibitors because it is unclear which TGFβ mechanism is functional in which patient. Companion diagnostic tools and specific biomarkers of TGFβ targeted biology will be the key to exploiting TGFβ biology for patient benefit.

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