The first discovery of metabolic changes in cancer occurred almost a century ago. While the genetic underpinnings of cancer have dominated its study since then, altered metabolism has recently been acknowledged as a key hallmark of cancer and metabolism-focused research has received renewed attention. The emerging field of metabolomics - which attempts to profile all metabolites within a cell or biological system - is now being used to analyze cancer metabolism on a system-wide scale, painting a broad picture of the altered pathways and their interactions with each other. While a large fraction of cancer metabolomics research is focused on finding diagnostic biomarkers, metabolomics is also being used to obtain more fundamental mechanistic insight into cancer and carcinogenesis. Applications of metabolomics are also emerging in areas such as tumor staging and assessment of treatment efficacy. This review summarizes contributions that metabolomics has made in cancer research and presents the current challenges and potential future directions within the field.
The article is published online in the Journal of Carcinogenesis and is free to access.