Cancer stem cells: an evolving concept

Nat Rev Cancer. 2012 Jan 12;12(2):133-43. doi: 10.1038/nrc3184.


The cancer stem cell (CSC) concept derives from the fact that cancers are dysregulated tissue clones whose continued propagation is vested in a biologically distinct subset of cells that are typically rare. This idea is not new, but has recently gained prominence because of advances in defining normal tissue hierarchies, a greater appreciation of the multistep nature of oncogenesis and improved methods to propagate primary human cancers in immunodeficient mice. As a result we have obtained new insights into why the CSC concept is not universally applicable, as well as a new basis for understanding the complex evolution, phenotypic heterogeneity and therapeutic challenges of many human cancers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genomic Instability
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Transplantation, Heterologous

Grant support