Published online Aug 21, 2014. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i31.10790
Revised: February 7, 2014
Accepted: April 5, 2014
Published online: August 21, 2014
Core tip: Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive and lethal malignancies, despite remarkable progress in understanding pancreatic carcinogenesis and new therapeutic approaches. The presence of highly resistant cancer stem cells (CSCs) and the changes in their signaling pathways lead to drug resistance in pancreatic cancer. CSCs are considered responsible for tumor growth, invasion, metastasis and recurrence. CSC involvement in pancreatic cancer pathogenesis has also highlighted them as preferential targets for therapy. This review is an update of the results in two main fields of research in pancreatic cancer, pathogenesis and therapy, focused on the narrow perspective of CSCs.