To understand cancer stem cells we need to look into how they are classed and what makes them different from other cancer cells. Cancer stem cells are those cells within a tumor that can self-renew and drive tumorigenesis.
Much research is still ongoing into cancer cells, what they are and how they operate. First, cancer cells have certain unique attributes:
1. It is capable of recurrence even after a course of treatment.
2. It will form in the center of the hierarchy of cells that formed the tumor.
3. It is possible to cause the spread of cancer to other parts of the body.
A stem cell is a cell that generates other cells that are slightly unique to its neighbours therefore called heterogeneous.
So, experiments carried out in a controlled environment might cause the growth of extremely similar cells which may cause some to question its validity as a cancer stem cell. A CSC (Cancer Stem Cell) is similar to the attribute of a normal stem cell by the way it grows new tissue and therefore is very difficult to replicate in a Petri dish.
Why are cancer stem cells so important? Tests have shown that identifying and eliminating CSC’s leads to the regression of tumors in mice. When cells omitting CSC’s where put into mice a tumor was never formed, therefore targeting these cells in cancer therapy could have a dramatic effect on cancer patients.
Research into this field has been put on the back burner as cancer immunotherapy has taken precedence. However, the study of cancer stem cells has opened a number of new doors to develop new and effective cancer treatments.
The belief that cancer cells where a uniform section of tissue has since been dispersed giving way to new research into the formation of tumors and how they can be tackled in the future. Even though no conclusion has been made as yet, the future is certainly looking brighter than it was before CSC research began.
One of the biggest problems is the cancer´s ability to spread very quickly through the body. Although treatments such as chemotherapy can slow the process and in some cases (if diagnosed early enough) reverse the spread, researchers are working on attacking these particular cells in a highly targeted manner.