The Role of Cancer Stem Cells in Cancer Recurrence and Metastasis

Because of their relatively slow rate of proliferation, cancer stem cells (CSCs) may be resistant to chemotherapeutic strategies that target rapidly dividing cancer cells.1 Moreover, the tumor microenvironment and dysregulated stemness pathways may provide additional protection against chemotherapy and radiation.2

Although chemotherapy and radiation may kill most of the cells in the tumor, CSCs that are not eradicated may lead to regrowth or recurrence of the tumor either at the primary site or at distant sites.3

Cancer Stem Cells and Metastasis

CSCs may acquire the ability to mobilize to distant sites. They may maintain stemness at these sites through interactions with the microenvironment, allowing for metastatic tumor growth.1,3,4

Targeting CSCs may hold promise for advancing cancer treatment. Current research is designed to investigate the safety and efficacy of targeting CSC pathways in patients with advanced cancers.


  1. Boman BM, Huang E. Human colon cancer stem cells: a new paradigm in gastrointestinal
    oncology. J Clin Oncol. 2008;26(17):2828-2838.
  2. Borovski T, De Sousa E, Melo F, Vermeulen L, Medema JP. Cancer stem cell niche: the place to be. Cancer Res. 2011;71(3):634-639.
  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.

Current Clinical Trials

Our ongoing studies in advanced cancers emphasize inhibition of cancer stem cell pathways.Learn More

Cancer Stemness: A Puzzle Piece of Cancer

Understand how cancer stemness impacts growth of malignant tumors and may explain tumorigenicity and tumor recurrence. Download this slide deck resource.Download Now