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Mast cells (MCs) are immune cells of the myeloid lineage and are present in connective tissues throughout the body. The activation and degranulation of MCs significantly modulates many aspects of physiological and pathological conditions in various settings. Recent data have expanded the concept that inflammation is a critical component for tumor progression. Interestingly, three of the most aggressive human cancers, malignant melanoma, breast carcinoma and colorectal adenocarcinoma, are commonly associated with a marked host response comprising of various inflammatory cells, but especially MCs around the tumor periphery. A systematic review of the literature was performed based on the English titles listed in the PubMed, EBSCO, Cochrane, Science Direct, ISI web Science, and SciELO databases using the keywords. Abstracts and full-text articles were assessed. This review summarizes the current understanding of the role of MCs in tumor progression.