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The effective removal of cells undergoing programmed cell death, which is referred to as efferocytosis, prevents the leakage of intracellular contents into the surrounding tissue, which could lead to tissue damage and inflammation. Efferocytosis involves a coordinated orchestration of multiple steps that lead to a swift, coherent and immunologically silent removal of dying cells. The release of wound healing cytokines, which resolve inflammation and enhance tissue repair, is an important feature of efferocytosis. However, in addition to the healing cytokines released during efferocytosis, the immunosuppressive action of cytokines promotes the tumor microenvironment, enhances the motility of cancer cells and promotes the evasion of antitumor immunity. The aim of the present review was to comprehensively discuss the efferocytosis phenomenon, the important players associated with this process and their role in cancer-related biological events.
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