Cancer has emerged as one of the world’s most concerning health problems. The progression and metastasis mechanisms of cancer are complex, including metabolic disorders, oxidative stress, inflammation, apoptosis, and intestinal microflora disorders. These pose significant challenges to our efforts to prevent and treat cancer and its metastasis. Natural drugs have a long history of use in the prevention and treatment of cancer.
Many effective anti-tumor drugs, such as Paclitaxel, Vincristine, and Camptothecin, have been widely prescribed for the prevention and treatment of cancer. In recent years, a trend in the field of antitumor drug development has been to screen the active antitumor ingredients from natural drugs and conduct in-depth studies on the mechanisms of their antitumor activity. In this review, high-frequency keywords included in the literature of several common Chinese and English databases were analyzed.
The results showed that five Chinese herbal medicines (Radix Salviae, Panax Ginseng C. A. Mey, Hedysarum Multijugum Maxim, Ganoderma, and Curcumaelongae Rhizoma) and three natural compounds (quercetin, luteolin, and kaempferol) were most commonly used for the prevention and treatment of cancer and cancer metastasis. The main mechanisms of action of these active compounds in tumor-related research were summarized. Finally, we found that four natural compounds (dihydrotanshinone, sclareol, isoimperatorin, and girinimbin) have recently attracted the most attention in the field of anti-cancer research.
Our findings provide some inspiration for future research on natural compounds against tumors and new insights into the role and mechanisms of natural compounds in the prevention and treatment of cancer and cancer metastasis.