Bladder cancer (BC), the most common cancer arising from the human urinary tract, consists of two major clinicopathological phenotypes: muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) and non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC). MIBC frequently metastasizes and is associated with an unfavorable prognosis. A certain proportion of patients with metastatic BC can achieve a remission with systemic chemotherapy; however, the disease relapses in most cases. Evidence suggests that MIBC comprises a small population of cancer stem cells (CSCs), which may be resistant to these treatments and may be able to form new tumors in the bladder or other organs. Therefore, the unambiguous identification of bladder CSCs and the development of targeted therapies are urgently needed. Nevertheless, it remains unclear where bladder CSCs originate and how they are generated. We review recent studies on bladder CSCs, specifically focusing on their proposed origin and the possible therapeutic options based on the CSC theory.
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