Autophagy is a catabolic degradation process in which cellular proteins and organelles are engulfed by double-membrane autophagosomes and degraded in lysosomes. Autophagy has emerged as a critical pathway in tumor development and cancer therapy, although its precise function remains a conundrum. The current consensus is that autophagy has a dual role in cancer. On the one hand, autophagy functions as a tumor suppressor mechanism by preventing the accumulation of damaged organelles and aggregated proteins. On the other hand, autophagy is a key cell survival mechanism for established tumors; therefore autophagy inhibition suppresses tumor progression. Here, we summarize recent progress on the role of autophagy in tumorigenesis and cancer therapy.
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