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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Cancers.

Volume 12, Issue 9, August 2020, Article number 2338, Pages 1-20.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.3390/cancers12092338

Copyright © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


For the past 100 years, oncologists have relentlessly pursued the destruction of tumor cells by surgical, chemotherapeutic or radiation oncological means. Consistent with this focus, treatment plans are typically based on key characteristics of the tumor itself such as disease site, histology and staging based on local, regional and systemic dissemination. Precision medicine is similarly built on the premise that detailed knowledge of molecular alterations of tumor cells themselves enables better and more effective tumor cell destruction. Recently, host factors within the tumor microenvironment including the vasculature and immune systems have been recognized as modifiers of disease progression and are being targeted for therapeutic gain. In this review, we argue that-to optimize the impact of old and new treatment options-we need to take account of an epidemic that occurs independently of-but has major impact on-the development and treatment of malignant diseases. This is the rapidly increasing number of patients with excess weight and its' attendant metabolic consequences, commonly described as metabolic syndrome. It is well established that patients with altered metabolism manifesting as obesity, metabolic syndrome and chronic inflammation have an increased incidence of cancer. Here, we focus on evidence that these patients also respond differently to cancer therapy including radiation and provide a perspective how exercise, diet or pharmacological agents may be harnessed to improve therapeutic responses in this patient population.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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