Neutrophils play an important role in cancer. This does not only relate to the well-established prognostic value of the presence of neutrophils, either in the blood or in tumor tissue, in the context of cancer progression or for the monitoring of therapy, but also to their active role in the progression of cancer. In the current review, we describe what is known in general about the role of neutrophils in cancer. What is emerging is a complex, rather heterogeneous picture with both pro- and anti-tumorigenic roles, which apparently differs with cancer type and disease stage. Furthermore, we will discuss the well-known role of neutrophils as myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC), and also on the role of neutrophils as important effector cells during antibody therapy in cancer. It is clear that neutrophils contribute substantially to cancer progression in multiple ways, and this includes both direct effects on the cancer cells and indirect effect on the tumor microenvironment. While in many cases neutrophils have been shown to promote tumor progression, for instance by acting as MDSC, there are also protective effects, particularly when antibody immunotherapy is performed. A better understanding of the role of neutrophils is likely to provide opportunities for immunomodulation and for improving the treatment of cancer patients
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-328
Number of pages17
JournalImmunological reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


  • Journal Article
  • Review

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