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Breast Cancer Res. 2002;4(2):47-50. Epub 2002 Jan 16.

Mammary cancer and epithelial stem cells: a problem or a solution?

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  • Basic Research Laboratory, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA. gs4d@nih.gov


The existing paradigms for stem cells in adult tissues include the integument, the alimentary canal, the lung, the liver, skeletal muscle and bone marrow. The mammary gland, by contrast, is the 'new kid on the block'. What little is known about stem cells in the mammary gland indicates that they possess a prodigious capacity for self-renewal. More importantly, in rodents, they persist with undiminished reproductive vigor throughout the organism's lifetime without regard to age or reproductive history. Do these stem cells represent primary targets for mammary neoplasia? If so, what are the implications for prevention/therapy?

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