Cancer has emerged as a pressing global public health issue, and improving the effectiveness of cancer treatment remains one of the foremost challenges of modern medicine. The primary clinical methods of treating cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, inevitably result in some adverse effects on the body. However, the advent of photothermal therapy offers an alternative route for cancer treatment. Photothermal therapy relies on photothermal agents with photothermal conversion capability to eliminate tumors at high temperatures, which offers advantages of high precision and low toxicity. As nanomaterials increasingly play a pivotal role in tumor prevention and treatment, nanomaterial-based photothermal therapy has gained significant attention owing to its superior photothermal properties and tumor-killing abilities. In this review, we briefly summarize and introduce the applications of common organic photothermal conversion materials (e.g., cyanine-based nanomaterials, porphyrin-based nanomaterials, polymer-based nanomaterials, etc.) and inorganic photothermal conversion materials (e.g., noble metal nanomaterials, carbon-based nanomaterials, etc.) in tumor photothermal therapy in recent years. Finally, the problems of photothermal nanomaterials in antitumour therapy applications are discussed. It is believed that nanomaterial-based photothermal therapy will have good application prospects in tumor treatment in the future.
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