The recognition of a role for inflammation in the natural history of a tumor has a long record, stretching from the mid-19th century. From the times of Virkow, who postulated that cancer originates from inflamed tissues, to Metchnikoff and many others, this field has continued to excite (and divide) the scientific community. The question as to whether the inflammatory infiltrate helps or hinders tumors is still open. In a sense, modern molecular biology has, if anything, worsened this dualism, and the literature on this issue shows a plethora of conflicting reports. We would like to provide another contribution to this topic, which was the subject of a recent brilliant review (Balkwill F and Mantovani A. Lancet 2001; 357: 539-45), by focussing more specifically to the relation between inflammation and tumor invasion and how this could drive rational therapeutic approaches.