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Cancer Gene Ther. 2014 May;21(5):181-7. doi: 10.1038/cgt.2014.15. Epub 2014 May 2.

Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and the cancer stem cell phenotype: insights from cancer biology with therapeutic implications for colorectal cancer.

Author information

1
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.
2
Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.
3
1] Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA [2] Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA [3] Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.
4
1] Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA [2] Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA [3] Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.

Abstract

Although mortality from colorectal cancer (CRC) is decreasing, CRC is still the second highest cause of cancer-related deaths in America. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy now have central roles in our strategies to fight cancer, although we continue to lack novel strategies overcoming therapeutic resistance. Molecular mechanisms of therapeutic resistance in CRC continue to be under intense investigation. In this review, we highlight the recent evidence linking epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) with aggressive tumor biology as well as with the cancer stem cells (CSCs) across multiple organ systems including colon cancer. Furthermore, in the era of neo-adjuvant treatment, the clinical implications are concerning that our treatments may have the potential to induce more aggressive cancer cells through EMT, perhaps even generating CSCs more capable of metastasis and further resistant to treatment. This concern and potential reality highlights the critical need for further understanding the impact of clinical therapy on the pathobiology of cancer and further supports the need to therapeutically target the CSC. Besides serving as potential biomarkers for aggressive tumor biology and therapeutic resistance, EMT and CSC molecular pathways may highlight novel therapeutic targets as strategies for improving the response to conventional anti-neoplastic agents translating into improved oncologic outcomes.

PMID:
24787239
PMCID:
PMC4041800
DOI:
10.1038/cgt.2014.15
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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