Cancer stem cells: small subpopulation or evolving fraction?

Integr Biol (Camb). 2015 Jan;7(1):14-23. doi: 10.1039/c4ib00191e.


Central to the debate about cancer stem cells in solid tumors is the proportion of cells that can initiate, propagate, and re-initiate tumors. An initially assumed minor subpopulation is confronted with recent data suggesting as many as 30% of primary tumor cells have stem cell characteristics. This review discusses quantitative modeling studies that augment our understanding of stem and non-stem cancer cell interactions during tumor progression and the resulting fraction of cancer stem cells. A discussion of how these findings can be carefully evaluated in novel, integrated interdisciplinary studies is offered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / physiology*