Stemness: The Ability to Self-Renew and Differentiate1

Cancer stem cells (CSCs) exhibit stemness, the ability to self-renew and differentiate into different tumor cell types.1 While CSCs are only a minor portion of the total cancer cell population,2 they can give rise to the heterogeneous lineages of cancer cells that make up the bulk of the tumor.1

In addition, CSCs possess the ability to mobilize to distant sites while retaining their stemness properties and thus regrow the tumor at these sites.3

The Role of Aberrant Signaling Pathways

CSC stemness is associated with dysregulation of signaling pathways, which may contribute to their ability to regrow tumors and to migrate to distant sites.4


  1. Gupta PB, Chaffer CL, Weinberg RA. Cancer stem cells: mirage or reality? Nat Med.
  2. Clarke MF. Self-renewal and solid-tumor stem cells. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant.
    2005:11(2 suppl 2):14-16.
  3. Jordan CT, Guzman ML, Noble M. Cancer stem cells. N Engl J Med. 2006;355(12):1253-1261.
  4. Ajani JA, Song S, Hochster HS, Steinberg IB. Cancer stem cells: the promise and the potential. Semin Oncol. 2015;42(suppl 1):S3-S17.

Leading Oncologists Explore: Understanding the Role of Cancer Stem Cells
Why are Cancer Stem Cells Important?

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