Platelets are involved in the development and progression of cancer through several mechanisms. Platelet activation at the site of tissue damage contributes to the initiation of a cascade of events which promote tumorigenesis. In fact, platelets release a wide array of proteins, including growth and angiogenic factors, lipids and extracellular vesicles rich in genetic material, which can mediate the induction of phenotypic changes in target cells, such as immune, stromal and tumor cells, and promote carcinogenesis and metastasis formation. Importantly, the role of platelets in tumor immune escape has been described. These lines of evidence open the way to novel strategies to fight cancer based on the use of antiplatelet agents. In addition to their ability to release factors, platelets are able of up-taking proteins and genetic material present in the bloodstream. Platelets are like ‘sentinels’ of the disease state. The evaluation of proteomics and transcriptomics signature of platelets and platelet-derived microparticles could represent a new strategy for the development of biomarkers for early cancer detection and/or therapeutic drug monitoring in cancer chemotherapy. Owing to the ability of platelets to interact with cancer cells and to deliver their cargo, platelets have been proposed as a ‘biomimetic drug delivery system’ for anti-tumor drugs to prevent the occurrence of off-target adverse events associated with the use of traditional chemotherapy.

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