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Implication of stem cells in the biology and therapy of head and neck cancer []

DOI: 10.3205/cto000074

Keywords: head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) , stem cells , cancer stem cells , CD34 , WNT pathway , self renewal

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[english] The progress which has been made in the therapy of patients with head and neck cancer in recent years mainly concern the HPV associated HNSCC and the quality of life. The overall survival of patients carrying non HPV associated HNSCC during the last thirty years has not experienced any significant improvement and must be referred to as static , . The problem of the illness remains unchanged in the frequent and poorly controllable relapse situation. The locoregionally originating tumours or lymph node metastases show a considerably poorer response towards current therapies. Likewise for a number of patients a formation of distant metastases seems to develop during the course of the illness. Those distant metastases are also therapeutically rather difficult to control. Therefore the mortality of the non HPV induced head and neck cancer remains unchanged. The term “stem cell” describes the entity cell, which acts as a reservoir for new cells in order to replace defective or necrotic cells. A fundamental characteristic of stem cells is the constant ability to multiply into different type of cells, which subsequently do not proliferate. With the insight of new knowledge within the regenerative medicine and the ability of stem cells of self regenerating proliferation and their multipotency in the differentiation, the origin of cancer attains a new distinction. If you look on the tumour as a malignant wound it becomes obvious, that the regeneration or the composition of additional tissue depends on the presence and differentiation of stem cells. The wound healing, which is a regeneration of tissue depends not only on stationary stem cells. In fact stem cells are attracted for “homing” in the defective areas by despatch of various messengers, which then form and replace the vascular tree or other tissue , .Next to those stem cells, which functionally help to form tumour tissue, a small entity of “real cancer stem cells” in solid tumours is expected. Those occur in tumours and they have typical stem cell characteristics like self-regeneration and the potential of differentiation and are potentially responsible for tumour growth. With their ability of self-regeneration they would have the ability to form a complete tumour out of every single cell. That tumour would histologically look like the tumour those cells initially originated from. Of particular interest regarding those currently still elusive cancer stem cells is their resistance towards current therapies like radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Those insights now get a completely new meaning in tumou


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