Targeting cancer stem cells: protons versus photons

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Recent studies on cancer stem cells revealed they are tumorigenic and able to recapitulate the characteristics of the tumour from which they derive, so that it was suggested that elimination of this population is essential to prevent recurrences after any treatment. However, there is evidence that cancer stem cells are inherently resistant to conventional (photon) radiotherapy. Since the use of proton beam therapy in cancer treatment is growing rapidly worldwide, mainly because of their excellent dosimetric properties, the possibility could be considered that they also have biological advantages through preferential elimination of cancer stem cells.Indeed, a review of preclinical data suggest that protons and photons differ in their biological effects on cancer stem cells, with protons offering potential advantages, although the heterogeneity of cancer stem cells and the different proton irradiation modalities make the comparison of the results not so easy. Further research to understand the mechanisms underlying such effects is important for their possible exploitation in clinics and to perform proton beam therapy optimization.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
JournalThe British journal of radiology
Issue number1107
Publication statusPublished - Aug 21 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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