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Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2011 Oct;49(7):503-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bjoms.2010.07.016. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

Stem cells in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

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Department of Maxillofacial Surgery, Northwick Park Hospital, Middlesex HA1 3UJ, United Kingdom.


The existence of a small subpopulation of tumourigenic cancer stem cells in the bulk of human head and neck squamous cancers (SCC) has been recognised in recent reports. This subpopulation has self-renewal properties and is responsible for the production of differentiated daughter cells that form the bulk of the tumour. Stem cells in head and neck SCC can be identified functionally using their self-renewal properties, or by their characteristic surface markers. As their resistance to contemporary cancer treatments may eventually lead to the failure of treatment there is an urgent need to better understand their biology with the ultimate goal of developing new diagnostic markers and curative cancer treatments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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