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Zinc (Zn) is a crucial trace element involved in various cellular processes, including oxidative stress, apoptosis and immune response, contributing to cellular homeostasis. Dysregulation of Zn homeostasis occurs in certain cancers. This review discusses the role of Zn in cancer and its associated components, such as Zn-related proteins, their potential as biomarkers and the use of Zn-based strategies for tumor treatment. ZIP and ZnT proteins regulate Zn metabolism under normal conditions, but their expression is aberrant in cancer. These Zn proteins can serve as prognostic or diagnostic biomarkers, aiding in early cancer detection and disease monitoring. Moreover, targeting Zn and its pathways offers potential therapeutic approaches for cancer treatment. Modulating Zn biodistribution within cells using metal-binding agents allows for the control of downstream signaling pathways. Direct utilization of zinc as a therapeutic agent, including Zn supplementation or Zn oxide nanoparticle administration, holds promise for improving the prognosis of cancer patients.

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