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Current evidence for cancer stem cells in gastrointestinal tumors and future research perspectives.

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol; 107: 54-71, 2016 Nov.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-27823652
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a very heterogeneous subpopulation of "stem-like" cancer cells that have been identified in many cancers, including leukemias and solid tumors. It is believed that CSCs drive tumor growth, malignant behavior and are responsible for the initiation of metastatic spread. In addition, CSCs have been implicated in chemotherapy and radiotherapy resistance. Current evidence supports the theory that CSCs share at least two main features of normal stem cells: self-renewal and differentiation, properties that contribute to tumor survival even in the presence of aggressive chemotherapy; however, the mechanism(s) governing the unique biology of CSCs remain unclear. In the field of gastrointestinal cancer, where we face very low survival rates across different tumor types, unraveling the role of CSCs in gastrointestinal tumors should improve our knowledge of cancer biology and chemoresistance, ultimately benefiting patient survival. Towards this end, much effort is being invested in the characterization of CSCs as a means of overcoming drug resistance and controlling metastatic spread. In this review we will cover the concept of CSCs, the current evidence for CSCs in gastrointestinal tumors and future research directions.