Ovarian cancer stem cells: are they real and why are they important?

Gynecol Oncol. 2014 Feb;132(2):483-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2013.12.001. Epub 2013 Dec 7.


The cancer stem cell hypothesis has been put forward as a paradigm to describe varying levels of aggressiveness in heterogeneous tumors. Specifically, many subpopulations have been clearly demonstrated to possess increased tumorigenicity in mice, broad differentiating capacity, and resistance to therapy. However, the extent to which these experimental findings are potentially clinically significant is still not clear. This review will describe the principles of this emerging hypothesis, ways in which it may be appropriate in ovarian cancer based on the clinical course of the disease, and how we might exploit it to improve outcomes in ovarian cancer patients.

Keywords: ALDH1; CD133; CD44; Cancer stem cells; Ovarian cancer; Side population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Female
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor