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Cancer is caused by a complex interplay of molecular signals. Uncontrolled cellular growth, a hallmark of cancer, may hold the key to understanding the spread of disease. Tumors form and proliferate from the actions of a small population of unique cells. The observation that cancer cells and stem cells share many similar properties has led to the search for “cancer stem cells.”

Cancer Cells Arise From Stem Cells

Stem cells are distinguished from other cells by two characteristics: (1) they can divide to produce copies of themselves, or self-renew, under appropriate conditions, and (2) they can differentiate into more specialized cell types. The ability to self-renew gives stem cells long life spans relative to those of mature, differentiated cells. It has therefore been hypothesized that the limited ...

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