Ovarian cancer stem cells: Can targeted therapy lead to improved progression-free survival?

Academic Article


  • Despite significant effort and research funds, epithelial ovarian cancer remains a very deadly disease. There are no effective screening methods that discover early stage disease; the majority of patients are diagnosed with advanced disease. Treatment modalities consist primarily of radical debulking surgery followed by taxane and platinum-based chemotherapy. Newer therapies including limited targeted agents and intraperitoneal delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs have improved disease-free intervals, but failed to yield long-lasting cures in most patients. Chemotherapeutic resistance, particularly in the recurrent setting, plagues the disease. Targeting the pathways and mechanisms behind the development of chemoresistance in ovarian cancer could lead to significant improvement in patient outcomes. In many malignancies, including blood and other solid tumors, there is a subgroup of tumor cells, separate from the bulk population, called cancer stem cells (CSCs). These CSCs are thought to be the cause of metastasis, recurrence and resistance. However, to date, ovarian CSCs have been difficult to identify, isolate, and target. It is felt by many investigators that finding a putative ovarian CSC and a chemotherapeutic agent to target it could be the key to a cure for this deadly disease. This review will focus on recent advances in this arena and discuss some of the controversies surrounding the concept.
  • Published In


  • Cancer stem cells, Chemoresistance, Chemotherapy, Epithelial ovarian cancer, Recurrent ovarian cancer, Targeted therapy
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Walters Haygood CL; Arend RC; Straughn JM; Buchsbaum DJ
  • Start Page

  • 441
  • End Page

  • 447
  • Volume

  • 6
  • Issue

  • 4