Cancer stem cells (CSCs) possess the capacity to self-renew and to generate heterogeneous lineages of cancer cells that comprise tumors. A substantial body of evidence supports a model in which CSCs play a major role in the initiation, maintenance, and clinical outcome of cancers. In contrast, analysis of the role of CSCs in metastasis has been mainly conceptual and speculative. This review summarizes recent data that support the theory of CSCs as the source of metastatic lesions in breast cancer, with a focus on the key role of the microenvironment in the stemness-metastasis link.
Copyright © 2011 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.