Cancer and inflammation: an old intuition with rapidly evolving new concepts

Annu Rev Immunol. 2012;30:677-706. doi: 10.1146/annurev-immunol-020711-075008. Epub 2012 Jan 6.


Recent scientific advances have contributed much to the dissection of the complex molecular and cellular pathways involved in the connection between cancer and inflammation. The evidence for this connection in humans is based on the association between infection or chronic sterile inflammation and cancer. The decreased incidence of tumors in individuals who have used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is supportive of a role for inflammation in cancer susceptibility. The increased incidence of tumors in overweight patients points to a role for adipose tissue inflammation and energy metabolism in cancer. Energy metabolism, obesity, and genetic instability are regulated in part by the relationship of the organism with commensal bacteria that affect inflammation with both local and systemic effects. Different aspects of inflammation appear to regulate all phases of malignant disease, including susceptibility, initiation, progression, dissemination, morbidity, and mortality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism