Inflammation is a facilitating process for multiple cancer types. It is believed to affect cancer development and progression through several etiologic pathways, including increased levels of DNA adduct formation, increased angiogenesis, and altered antiapoptotic signaling. This review highlights the application of inflammatory biomarkers in epidemiologic studies and discusses the various cellular mediators of inflammation characterizing the innate immune system response to infection and chronic insult from environmental factors. Included is a review of six classes of inflammation-related biomarkers: cytokines/chemokines, immunerelated effectors, acute-phase proteins, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, prostaglandins and cyclooxygenase- related factors, and mediators such as transcription factors and growth factors. For each of these biomarkers, we provide a brief overview of the etiologic role in the inflammation response and how they have been related to cancer etiology and progression within the literature. We provide a discussion of the common techniques available for quantification of each marker, including strengths, weaknesses, and potential pitfalls. Subsequently, we highlight a few under-studied measures to characterize the inflammatory response and their potential utility in epidemiologic studies of cancer. Finally, we suggest integrative methods for future studies to apply multifaceted approaches to examine the relationship between inflammatory markers and their roles in cancer development.
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