Not yet. Cancer stem cells must be destroyed, or recurrence is nearly certain. While chemo and radiation don’t kill them, there are natural therapies that do. Now, some stem-cell therapy are promising for cancer patients. Again, we know there are cancer stem cells, and some researchers believe the key to a cancer cure relates to inhibiting their proliferation.
Think about this: if tumors can’t sustain growth without cancer stem cells— in fact, tumors cannot survive without them—then we should develop target-specific therapies to destroy them. This is the new hope for improving survival and quality of life for cancer patients, especially those with advanced disease. For years some researchers have proposed that the reason for chemo’s failure, for its inordinate recurrence rate, is that even though it effectively kills the bulk of a tumor’s malignant cells to the point of remission, chemo/radiation-resistant cancer stem cells go untouched, ready for a new beginning.
What’s more, it would be less toxic, and theoretically more effective, to target treatments directly at the small population of cancer stem cells instead of trying to kill all the billions of cells in a tumor. Eliminating the stem cells would ultimately kill the cancer and halt metastasis. Therefore a number of US and European pharmaceutical labs have developed drugs to selectively target cancer stem cells and are in early clinical phase trials. Results are somewhat encouraging but also are mixed, still far from being FDA-approved, and likely to be very expensive.