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Volume 2012, Article ID 291705, 8 pages
Review Article

Sarcoma Stem Cells: Do We Know What We Are Looking for?

Division of Pediatric Oncology, Department of Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University, Bunting-Blaustein Cancer Research Building, Room 2M51, 1650 Orleans Street, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA

Received 7 December 2011; Revised 20 February 2012; Accepted 20 February 2012

Academic Editor: Igor Matushansky

Copyright © 2012 Matteo Trucco and David Loeb. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Sarcomas represent a heterogeneous group of cancers thought to originate from malignant transformation of mesenchymal cells. There is increasing evidence that many, if not all, sarcomas contain within them tumor-initiating, or “cancer stem,” cells responsible for the initiation, maintenance, and potentially relapse and metastasis of the tumor. Various techniques have been adopted in recent years to identify putative sarcoma stem cell populations. The goal of this paper is to summarize the criteria used to identify a stem cell population, describe the more prominent markers and techniques used to isolate cancer stem cells in sarcomas, and review the evidence for the existence of cancer stem cells in sarcomas.