Facing cancer once is daunting enough, but the shock of relapse often leaves a person feeling overwhelmed and depressed. Now three separate studies seem to confirm scientists’ suspicions that so-called cancer stem cells drive the growth and regrowth of tumors. If true, this changes the whole approach to cancer therapy.
For years, scientists have debated the existence of cancer stem cells, which exhibit stem cell characteristics by producing new tumor cells or additional cancer stem cells. Studies are beginning to show tumors contain a small number of cancer stem cells that are often quiescent, shielding them from chemotherapy treatments that normally target and kill tumor cells.