Researchers provide a conceptual framework to understand current knowledge of the fundamentals of cancer metabolism.
Tumors reprogram pathways of nutrient acquisition and metabolism to meet the bioenergetic, biosynthetic, and redox demands of malignant cells. These reprogrammed activities are now recognized as hallmarks of cancer, and recent work has uncovered remarkable flexibility in the specific pathways activated by tumor cells to support these key functions. In this perspective, we provide a conceptual framework to understand how and why metabolic reprogramming occurs in tumor cells, and the mechanisms linking altered metabolism to tumorigenesis and metastasis. Understanding these concepts will progressively support the development of new strategies to treat human cancer.