Cancer stem cells and chemoradiation resistance

Cancer Sci. 2008 Oct;99(10):1871-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2008.00914.x.


Cancer is a disease of genetic and epigenetic alterations, which are emphasized as the central mechanisms of tumor progression in the multistepwise model. Discovery of rare subpopulations of cancer stem cells (CSCs) has created a new focus in cancer research. The heterogeneity of tumors can be explained with the help of CSCs supported by antiapoptotic signaling. CSCs mimic normal adult stem cells by demonstrating resistance to toxic injuries and chemoradiation therapy. Moreover, they might be responsible for tumor relapse following apparent beneficial treatments. Compared with hematopoietic malignancies, conventional therapy regimes in solid tumors have improved the overall survival marginally, illustrating the profound impact of treatment resistance. This implies that the present therapies, which follow total elimination of rapidly dividing and differentiated tumor cells, need to be modified to target CSCs that repopulate the tumor. In this review article, we report on recent findings regarding the involvement of CSCs in chemoradiation resistance and provide new insights into their therapeutic implications in cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Signal Transduction