Epithelial-mesenchymal transition, cancer stem cells and treatment resistance

Breast Cancer Res. 2012 Jan 19;14(1):202. doi: 10.1186/bcr2938.


Breast cancer relapse, in a large number of patients, after initial response to standard of care therapy warrants development of novel therapies against recurrent and metastatic cancer. Cancer stem cells (CSCs), present in breast tumors while being intrinsically resistant to conventional therapy, have the ability to self renew and cause tumor recurrence. The residual tumors after therapy, with dramatic enrichment of the CSCs, have all the hallmarks of epithelial- mesenchymal transition (EMT). This review will focus on the link between EMT, CSCs and treatment resistance, since a better understanding of these interactions will allow us to effectively target the residual population after therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / physiology