This article reviews advances in the design and development of multifunctional carbon-based and/or magnetic nanoparticle systems (or simply ‘nanocarriers’) for early cancer diagnosis and spatially and temporally controlled therapy. The critical issues in cancer diagnosis and treatment are addressed based on novel nanotechnologies such as real-time in-vivo imaging, drug storage and release, and specific cancer-cell targeting. The implementation of nanocarriers into animal models and the subsequent effectiveness in treating tumors is also reviewed. Recommendations for future research are given.
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