Phytochemicals: Cancer chemoprevention and suppression of tumor onset and metastasis

Limin Shu, Ka Lung Cheung, Tin Oo Khor, Chi Chen, Ah Ng Kong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

184 Scopus citations


Carcinogenesis is a multi-step process which could be prevented by phytochemicals. Phytochemicals from dietary plants and other plant sources such as herbs are becoming increasingly important sources of anticancer drugs or compounds for cancer chemoprevention or adjuvant chemotherapy. Phytochemicals can prevent cancer initiation, promotion, and progression by exerting anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative stress effects which are mediated by integrated Nrf2, NF-κB, and AP-1 signaling pathways. In addition, phytochemicals from herbal medicinal plants and/or some dietary plants developed in recent years have been shown to induce apoptosis in cancer cells and inhibition of tumor growth in vivo. In advanced tumors, a series of changes involving critical signaling molecules that would drive tumor cells undergoing epithelial-mesenchymal transition and becoming invasive. In this review, we will discuss the potential molecular targets and signaling pathways that mediate tumor onset and metastasis. In addition, we will shed light on some of the phytochemicals that are capable of targeting these signaling pathways which would make them potentially applicable to cancer chemoprevention, treatment and control of cancer progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-502
Number of pages20
JournalCancer and Metastasis Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments Supported in part by Institutional Funds and by RO1-CA073674, RO1-CA094828 and R01-CA118947 to Dr Ah-Ng Tony Kong from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We thank all the members in Dr. Tony Kong's lab for their help in discussing and preparing this manuscript.


  • Cancer chemoprevention
  • Herbs
  • Metastasis
  • Molecular targets
  • Phytochemicals


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