Systemic antiplatelet treatment represents a promising option to improve the therapeutic outcomes and therapeutic efficacy of chemotherapy and immunotherapy due to the critical contribution of platelets to tumour progression. However, until recently, targeting platelets as a cancer therapeutic has been hampered by the elevated risk of haemorrhagic and thrombocytopenic (low platelet count) complications owing to the lack of specificity for tumour-associated platelets. Recent work has advanced our understanding of the molecular mechanisms responsible for the contribution of platelets to tumour progression and metastasis. This has led to the identification of the biological changes in platelets in the presence of tumours, the complex interactions between platelets and tumour cells during tumour progression, and the effects of platelets on antitumour therapeutic response. In this Review, we present a detailed picture of the dynamic roles of platelets in tumour development and progression as well as their use in diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring response to therapy. We also provide our view on how to overcome challenges faced by the development of precise antiplatelet strategies for safe and efficient clinical cancer therapy.
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