Cancer is considered as major leading cause for death in India and around world. Modern drug-targeted therapies have undoubtedly improved treatment to the cancer patients but also evoke severe side effects. Organ failure and immunosuppression is also a reason for death of cancer patients. However, advanced metastasized stage of cancers remained untreatable at present. So, there is need for the safer and more effective treatment for the improvement of efficiency and to lower the treatment cost to treat the disease. To readdress the above mentioned issues, phytochemical (s) based therapies are being advocated. Phytomedicine is an emerging strategy for the prevention, delaying, impeding the occurrence of cancer and curing the patients. The active herbal compounds of plants induce cytoprotective enzymes by the modulation of molecular targets of cancer while acting in co-ordination to detoxify and remove reactive substances formed by carcinogenic agents. The plant based principles have been reported to possess anti-carcinogenic, anti-proliferative and anti-mutagenic properties and hence exhibit potential to induce and stimulate cell death by genotoxic damage and reduction-oxidation imbalance in cells. These herbal compounds may inhibit or reverse multi-stages of cancer proliferation. This review summarizes an updated account of research in cancer chemoprevention and treatment strategy using phytochemical agents from medicinal plants. The underlying molecular mechanisms of actions of phytochemicals, the challenges in developing phytochemicals as effective anticancer drugs and possible solutions are also illustrated.
Keywords: Cancer, phytochemicals, anti-cancer, chemoprevention, apoptosis, mechanism