Neutrophils represent the most abundant leukocyte population in human peripheral blood, and their role had long been considered restricted to their phagocytic and antimicrobial activities during the acute phase of inflammation. However, an increasing number of recent investigations had highlighted their possible impact in tumor initiation and development, and the nature of neutrophil contribution in cancer had become a hot topic in immunology. Over the years, neutrophils have been shown to display both pro-tumor and antitumor effects, emphasizing an unexpected cellular heterogeneity in cancer. In this review, we will focus on the several ‘shades’ of neutrophils in tumor initiation, growth and metastasis. In addition, we will discuss the clinical significance of tumor-associated neutrophils in humans and their potential targeting in cancer therapy.

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