Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(18):2964-2973. doi:10.7150/ijms.49801 This issue


Application of Nanotechnology in Cancer Diagnosis and Therapy - A Mini-Review

Cancan Jin1, Kankai Wang2, Anthony Oppong-Gyebi3, Jiangnan Hu3✉

1. Department of Oncology, Affiliated Dongyang People's Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Dongyang, Zhejiang 322100,China
2. Department of Neurosurgery, The First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang 325000, China
3. Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, Texas 76107, USA

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Jin C, Wang K, Oppong-Gyebi A, Hu J. Application of Nanotechnology in Cancer Diagnosis and Therapy - A Mini-Review. Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(18):2964-2973. doi:10.7150/ijms.49801. Available from

File import instruction


Cancer is a leading cause of death and poor quality of life globally. Even though several strategies are devised to reduce deaths, reduce chronic pain and improve the quality of life, there remains a shortfall in the adequacies of these cancer therapies. Among the cardinal steps towards ensuring optimal cancer treatment are early detection of cancer cells and drug application with high specificity to reduce toxicities. Due to increased systemic toxicities and refractoriness with conventional cancer diagnostic and therapeutic tools, other strategies including nanotechnology are being employed to improve diagnosis and mitigate disease severity. Over the years, immunotherapeutic agents based on nanotechnology have been used for several cancer types to reduce the invasiveness of cancerous cells while sparing healthy cells at the target site. Nanomaterials including carbon nanotubes, polymeric micelles and liposomes have been used in cancer drug design where they have shown considerable pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic benefits in cancer diagnosis and treatment. In this review, we outline the commonly used nanomaterials which are employed in cancer diagnosis and therapy. We have highlighted the suitability of these nanomaterials for cancer management based on their physicochemical and biological properties. We further reviewed the challenges that are associated with the various nanomaterials which limit their uses and hamper their translatability into the clinical setting in certain cancer types.

Keywords: nanomaterials, nanotechnology, cancer, diagnosis, treatment