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Knowledge and progress in stem cell technology provide a new insight into cancer biology. The rare population of malignant cells with the stem cell-like features, termed “cancer stem cells”, has been demonstrated to be essential for the development and growth of cancer. Self-renewal and capability to differentiate into multiple lineages are the parallel properties of cancer stem cells with those of normal stem cells. Given these similar features, it is postulated that cancer stem cells may arise by mutation of general stem cells or progenitor of stem cell with the retaining self-renewal property. The concept of cancer stem cells can explain the behavior and progression of tumor. For example, cancer stem cells can be the source of various malignant cells found in a primary tumor. They may be the reservoir of drug and radiation resistant cells that cause a treatment failure and recurrence of cancer. They can also give rise to distant metastases if they spread out the primary site. Therefore, eradication of cancer stem cells may be essential to achieve stable, long-lasting emission, and even a cure, of cancer. The development of early detection based on the concept of cancer stem cells is also an important priority to be established.
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