The generation of an inflammatory environment is favorable and often decisive for the growth of both primary tumors and metastases. Tumor cells either express membrane molecules or release tumor-derived soluble factors able to alter myelopoiesis. Tumor-reprogrammed myeloid cells not only create a tolerogenic environment by blocking T cell functions and proliferation, but also directly drive tumor growth by promoting cancer stemness, angiogenesis, stroma deposition, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, and metastasis formation. In this Review, we discuss the interplay between immunosuppressive and protumoral myeloid cells and detail their immune-regulatory mechanisms, the molecular pathways involved in their differentiation, as well as their potential role as prognostic and diagnostic biomarkers and prospective targets for innovative approaches to treat tumor-bearing hosts.
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