Tumor Dormancy and Slow-Cycling Cancer Cells

  • John E. DavisJr
  • Jason Kirk
  • Yibing Ji
  • Dean G. TangEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1164)


Cancer cell heterogeneity is a universal feature of human tumors and represents a significant barrier to the efficacy and duration of anticancer therapies, especially targeted therapeutics. Among the heterogeneous cancer cell populations is a subpopulation of relatively quiescent cancer cells, which are in the G0/G1 cell-cycle phase and refractory to anti-mitotic drugs that target proliferative cells. These slow-cycling cells (SCCs) preexist in untreated tumors and frequently become enriched in treatment-failed tumors, raising the possibility that these cells may mediate therapy resistance and tumor relapse. Here we review several general concepts on tumor cell heterogeneity, quiescence, and tumor dormancy. We discuss the potential relationship between SCCs and cancer stem cells (CSCs). We also present our current understanding of how SCCs and cancer dormancy might be regulated. Increasing knowledge of SCCs and tumor dormancy should lead to identification of novel molecular regulators and therapeutic targets of tumor relapse, residual diseases, and metastasis.


Cancer stem cell Tumor dormancy Quiescence Slow-cycling cell Prostate cancer Tumor cell heterogeneity Label-retaining cell LRIG1 Cell cycle scRNA-Seq Lineage tracing Prostate stem cell TGF-beta Cell-of-origin Self-renewal Progenitor Plasticity CD44 



Work in the authors’ lab was supported by grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) (R01CA237027 and R21CA218635), Department of Defense (W81XWH-16-1-0575), and RPCCC and NCI grant P30CA016056.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • John E. DavisJr
    • 1
  • Jason Kirk
    • 1
  • Yibing Ji
    • 1
  • Dean G. Tang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology and TherapeuticsRoswell Park Comprehensive Cancer CenterBuffaloUSA

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