Cancer stem cells in breast: current opinion and future challenges

Pathobiology. 2008;75(2):75-84. doi: 10.1159/000123845. Epub 2008 Jun 10.


There is increasing evidence for the cancer stem cell hypothesis, which holds that cancers are driven by a cellular subcomponent that has stem cell properties, that is, self-renewal, tumorigenicity and multilineage differentiation capacity. The cancer stem cell hypothesis modifies our conceptual approach of oncogenesis and shall have implications in breast cancer prevention, detection and treatment, especially in metastatic breast cancer for which no curative treatment exists. Given the specific stem cell features, novel therapeutic pathways can be targeted. Following this approach, new molecules are currently in development. Focusing on the cross-talk between stem cells and their microenvironment is also a promising way to explore how to better target cancer stem cells and be curative.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Wnt Proteins / metabolism


  • Receptors, Notch
  • Wnt Proteins