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Cancer Lett. 2013 Sep 10;338(1):57-62. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2012.04.023. Epub 2012 Apr 30.

Breast cancer stem cells: obstacles to therapy.

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European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, University of Cardiff, Museum Avenue, Cardiff CF10 3AX, United Kingdom.


Only a fraction of the cells in a breast tumour are able to seed new tumour growth. These so-called breast cancer stem cells (bCSCs) are characterised by a number of discrete functional properties, some of which impact on therapeutic strategies aimed at eliminating these cells from tumours. Here we discuss how recent experimental evidence indicates that phenotypic plasticity is a central feature of tumour cell heterogeneity and drug resistance, traits that must be overcome in order to efficiently target bCSCs as a therapy for breast cancer. We propose that a better understanding of this fundamental property of breast cancer stem cells, over and above their identification in tumours, is a priority for improvement of patient survival.


Breast; Cancer stem cells; EMT; Plasticity

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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