Circulating tumor cells (CTCs): Detection methods and their clinical relevance in breast cancer

This review addresses the assays that have been described so far in the literature, including the enrichment and detection steps and the markers used in these assays

Bianca Mostert

2009

Scholarcy highlights

  • Implementation of this assay into clinical routine has been cumbersome, as a validated test was not available until recently
  • The enumeration of circulating tumor cells has long been regarded as an attractive diagnostic tool, as circulating tumor cells are thought to reflect aggressiveness of the tumor and may assist in therapeutic decisions in patients with solid malignancies
  • Circulating tumor cells are rare events which can be detected only by using a combination of surface and intracellular markers, and only recently a number of technical advances have made their reliable detection possible. Most of these new techniques rely on a combination of an enrichment and a detection step
  • This review addresses the assays that have been described so far in the literature, including the enrichment and detection steps and the markers used in these assays
  • We have focused on breast cancer as most clinical studies on CTC detection so far have been done in these patients
  • An increase in cell number at completion of therapy may develop as an indicator of early relapse: quantification of circulating epithelial tumor cells [CETC) for monitoring of adjuvant therapy in breast cancer
  • Use of reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction [RT-PCR) for carcinoembryonic antigen, cytokeratin 19, and maspin in the detection of tumor cells in leukapheresis products from patients with breast cancer: comparison with immunocytochemistry

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