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Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women worldwide, contributing to 14% of all new cancer cases and 6.8% of all cancer deaths in 2014. A new area of cancer research has arisen from the discovery of cancer cells with stem cell-like properties in several tumor types including the colon, head and breast. Cancer stem cells, which are undifferentiated cells, have the ability of self-renewal, self-replication and differentiating into malignant daughter cells. Breast tumors containing breast cancer stem cells have increased resistance to chemo- and radiotherapy, a higher relapse rate and increased susceptibility to metastasis. Potential targets for the treatment of chemoresistance include signaling pathways of breast cancer stem cells such as the β-catenin-, Notch and Hedgehog pathways. Chemoresistance of these breast cancer stem cells potentially elucidates failure to achieve complete remission post-therapy, and, thus, relapses of breast cancer. By unraveling the mechanism behind the chemotherapeutic resistance of breast cancer stem cells, researchers could develop more efficient treatment strategies towards breast cancer.
Breast cancer, Cancer stem cells, Chemoresistance, Biomarkers, Signaling pathways, 2