Cancer stem cells (CSCs) refer to a certain subpopulation within the tumor entity that is characterized by restricted cellular proliferation and multipotent differentiation potency. The existence of CSCs has been proven to contribute to the heterogeneity of malignancies, accounting for intensified tumorigenesis, treatment resistance, and metastatic spread. Dormancy was proposed as a reversible state of cancer cells that are temporarily arrested in the cell cycle, possessing several hallmarks that facilitate their survival within a devastating niche. This transient period is evoked to enter an actively proliferating state by multiple regulatory alterations, and one of the most significant and complex factors comes from local and systemic inflammatory reactions and immune components. Although CSCs and dormant cancer cells share several similarities, the clear relationship between these two concepts remains unclear. Thus, the detailed mechanism of immune cells interacting with CSCs and dormant cancer cells also warrants elucidation for prevention of cancer relapse and metastasis. In this review, we summarize recent findings and prospective studies on CSCs and cancer dormancy to conclude the relationship between these two concepts. Furthermore, we aim to outline the mechanism of immune components in interfering with CSCs and dormant cancer cells to provide a theoretical basis for the prevention of relapse and metastasis.
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