Chronic inflammation is an important risk factor for the development of cancers. The link between chronic inflammation and the risk of developing cancer is now well established. At least 20% of all cancers arise in association with infection and chronic inflammation. Inflammation and cancer are linked both along intrinsic (driven by genetic events causing malignancy) and extrinsic (driven by inflammatory conditions predisposing to tumor) pathways. Proteinases are key contributors to the breakdown and reconstitution of extracellular matrix components in physiological processes and pathological conditions, including destructive diseases and tumor progression. Matrix metalloproteinases are especially essential in the complex process of coregulation between cellular components of the tumor environment, and they are considered as potential diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in many types and stages of cancer. Although the link between chronic inflammation, proteinases and risk of developing cancer is now well established, several open questions remain. The most exciting challenge is to find the best approach to target cancer-associated inflammation in patients with cancer. With respect to matrix metalloproteinases, the development of a new generation of selective inhibitors is a promising area of research.
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