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Published online: 2024-05-31

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Role of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and cancer stem cells in colorectal cancer

Marta Fudalej12, Agata Mormul3, Andrzej Deptała12, Anna M. Badowska-Kozakiewicz1

Abstract

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. To properly investigate the biology of the tumor and the molecular mechanisms leading to cancer progression or treatment resistance, it seems imperative to explore the key pathways like epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cancer stem cells (CSCs). This review aimed to collect up-to-date knowledge on the subject of EMT and CSC in colorectal malignancies. In CRC, both EMT and CSC are associated with aggressive tumor behavior, metastases, cancer recurrence, and chemotherapy resistance. Due to their close relationship, the potential for targeting these pathways as therapeutic interventions is promising. However, direct usage of EMT and CSCs as therapeutic targets requires further investigation. Future studies should focus on unraveling the complex mechanisms underlying EMT and CSC involvement in CRC progression and developing tailored therapeutic strategies with acceptable toxicity profiles and minimal adverse events.

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