The Identification of Three Cancer Stem Cell Subpopulations within Moderately Differentiated Lip Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Authors: Rachna Ram, Helen D. Brasch, Jonathan C. Dunne, Paul F. Davis, Swee T. Tan and Tinte Itinteang

Frontiers in Surgery – Otorhinolarynology – Head and Neck Surgery Surgery, Front Surg 2017; 4:

Cancers of the lip are found with relatively similar levels of incidence throughout the world. The incidence is higher in males (between 12 and 13.5 per 100,000 population) but the frequency in females is increasing. It is usually treated with surgery, radiotherapy or both.

There is growing evidence that cancer originates from a small population of cancer stem cells. This has been demonstrated by the research group at the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute (GMRI) for a number of cancers, including those of the tongue and the cheek. Importantly, these cells are distinct from the actual cancer cells.

This paper reports that cancer stem cells can be identified in lip cancer. In fact, three distinct populations of these stem cells are found in this cancer. Each of them display a distinct set of stem cell markers. This discovery of a triplet of stem cell types is similar to the situation with cheek cancer, which the GMRI team has shown to have three types of cancer stem cells.