Introduction: In both developing and developed countries, cancer is among the leading causes of millions of deaths. The incidence of cancer is increasing due to environmental changes and modernization of life style. Lung and breast cancer deaths lead in number compared to other cancer deaths. Although the cause of cancer due to external factors like tobacco use, chemicals, radiation, infectious organisms and internal factors like immune conditions and genetic modification are known, the occurrence and deaths due to cancer cannot be controlled.
Methods: It is expected that the incidence of cancer after two decades will increase by 70% and the death rate will also increase by 50%, which is an alarming situation globally. Although synthetic compounds are being used in the control of cancer as chemopreventive agents, about 50% of these are related to natural products as the origin. There is an emerging evidence to show that in the past 50 years, natural products derived from plants and marine sources had beneficial effects in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Taxol, vincristine, vinblastine, cytarabine, eribulin mesylate and trabectidine are some of the anti-cancer compounds isolated from terrestrial and marine sources.
Results: This review highlights mainly the role of natural compounds isolated from terrestrial and marine sources as anti-cancer agents through the docking of these compounds with the related macromolecular targets.
Conclusion: Cell line studies for some of the compounds isolated from natural products are also reported.