Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1040–1048

The Colon Cancer Stem Cell Microenvironment Holds Keys to Future Cancer Therapy

Review Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11605-014-2497-1

Cite this article as:
Chen, S. & Huang, E.H. J Gastrointest Surg (2014) 18: 1040. doi:10.1007/s11605-014-2497-1



Colorectal cancer remains the most common gastrointestinal cancer. While screening combined with effective surgical treatment has reduced its mortality, we still do not have effective means to prevent recurrence nor to treat metastatic disease. What we know about cancer biology has gone through revolutionary changes in recent decades. The advent of the cancer stem cell theory has accelerated our understanding of the cancer cell. However, there is increasing evidence that cancer cells are influenced by their surrounding microenvironment.


This review divides the tumor microenvironment into four functional components—the stem cell niche, cancer stroma, immune cells, and vascular endothelia—and examines their individual and collective influence on the growth and metastasis of the colon cancer stem cell. The discussion will highlight the need to fully exploit the tumor microenvironment when designing future prognostic tools and therapies.


Colon cancerColorectal cancerCancer stem cellTumor microenvironmentStem cellMicroenvironment

Copyright information

© The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SurgeryUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Surgery, Department of Molecular Genetics and MicrobiologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Colorectal Surgery, Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative MedicineCleveland ClinicClevelandUSA