The capability of the immune system to generate a rapid and effective immune response aimed to eliminate aberrant cells is the key to protect the organism by the development of tumours.
However, tumours are able to evade the mechanisms of immune surveillance. Several lines of experimental and epidemiological evidence indicate that a “smouldering” inflammation is associated with most of, if not all, tumours and supports their progression.
Indeed, tumours promote a constant influx of myelomonocytic cells that play as key orchestrators of cancer-related inflammation, supporting proliferation and survival of malignant cells, subversion of adaptive immune response, angiogenesis, stroma remodeling and metastasis formation.
The connection between inflammation and cancer is unequivocal, but some of the mechanisms at the basis of such association are still unknown. Recent advances in the understanding of the cellular and molecular circuits of cancer-related inflammation as well as their potential relevance as diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic targets are herein discussed.