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Cancer Biol Ther. 2009 Sep;8(18):1691-8.

Cancer stem cells and hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Laboratory of Cancer Genetics, Digestive Diseases and Developmental Molecular Biology, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20007, USA.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common cancer worldwide, with a median survival of 6-16 m. Factors responsible for the poor prognosis include late onset diagnosis, underlying cirrhosis and resistance to chemotherapy; 40% of HCCs are clonal and therefore potentially arise from progenitor/stem cells. New insights are provided from several signaling pathways, such as STAT3, NOTCH, hedgehog and transforming growth factor-beta (TGFbeta), which are involved in stem cell renewal, differentiation, survival, and are commonly deregulated in HCC. Control of stem cell proliferation by the TGFbeta, Notch, Wnt and Hedgehog pathways to suppress hepatocellular cancer and to form the endoderm suggest a dual role for this pathway in tumor suppression as well as progression of differentiation from a stem or progenitor stage. This review provides a rationale for detecting and analyzing tumor stem cells as one of the most effective ways to treat cancers such as hepatocellular cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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