Unlike other blood cells, platelets are small anucleate structures derived from marrow megakaryocytes. Thought for almost a century to possess solely hemostatic potentials, platelets, however, play a much wider role in tissue regeneration and repair and interact intimately with tumor cells. On one hand, tumor cells induce platelet aggregation (TCIPA), known to act as the trigger of cancer-associated thrombosis. On the other hand, platelets recruited to the tumor microenvironment interact, directly, with tumor cells, favoring their proliferation, and, indirectly, through the release of a wide palette of growth factors, including angiogenic and mitogenic proteins. In addition, the role of platelets is not solely confined to the primary tumor site. Indeed, they escort tumor cells, helping their intravasation, vascular migration, arrest, and extravasation to the tissues to form distant metastasis. As expected, nonspecific or specific inhibition of platelets and their content represents an attractive novel approach in the fight against cancer. This review illustrates the role played by platelets at primary tumor sites and in the various stages of the metastatic process.
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