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      Biology, detection, and clinical implications of circulating tumor cells

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          Abstract

          Cancer metastasis is the main cause of cancer-related death, and dissemination of tumor cells through the blood circulation is an important intermediate step that also exemplifies the switch from localized to systemic disease. Early detection and characterization of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) is therefore important as a general strategy to monitor and prevent the development of overt metastatic disease. Furthermore, sequential analysis of CTCs can provide clinically relevant information on the effectiveness and progression of systemic therapies (e.g., chemo-, hormonal, or targeted therapies with antibodies or small inhibitors). Although many advances have been made regarding the detection and molecular characterization of CTCs, several challenges still exist that limit the current use of this important diagnostic approach. In this review, we discuss the biology of tumor cell dissemination, technical advances, as well as the challenges and potential clinical implications of CTC detection and characterization.

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          Most cited references 75

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          Circulating tumor cells predict survival benefit from treatment in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.

          A method for enumerating circulating tumor cells (CTC) has received regulatory clearance. The primary objective of this prospective study was to establish the relationship between posttreatment CTC count and overall survival (OS) in castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Secondary objectives included determining the prognostic utility of CTC measurement before initiating therapy, and the relationship of CTC to prostate-specific antigen (PSA) changes and OS at these and other time points. Blood was drawn from CRPC patients with progressive disease starting a new line of chemotherapy before treatment and monthly thereafter. Patients were stratified into predetermined Favorable or Unfavorable groups ( or =5 CTC/7.5mL). Two hundred thirty-one of 276 enrolled patients (84%) were evaluable. Patients with Unfavorable pretreatment CTC (57%) had shorter OS (median OS, 11.5 versus 21.7 months; Cox hazard ratio, 3.3; P 26 to 9.3 months). CTC are the most accurate and independent predictor of OS in CRPC. These data led to Food and Drug Administration clearance of this assay for the evaluation of CRPC.
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            Detection of mutations in EGFR in circulating lung-cancer cells.

            The use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors to target the epidermal growth factor receptor gene (EGFR) in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer is effective but limited by the emergence of drug-resistance mutations. Molecular characterization of circulating tumor cells may provide a strategy for noninvasive serial monitoring of tumor genotypes during treatment. We captured highly purified circulating tumor cells from the blood of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer using a microfluidic device containing microposts coated with antibodies against epithelial cells. We performed EGFR mutational analysis on DNA recovered from circulating tumor cells using allele-specific polymerase-chain-reaction amplification and compared the results with those from concurrently isolated free plasma DNA and from the original tumor-biopsy specimens. We isolated circulating tumor cells from 27 patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (median number, 74 cells per milliliter). We identified the expected EGFR activating mutation in circulating tumor cells from 11 of 12 patients (92%) and in matched free plasma DNA from 4 of 12 patients (33%) (P=0.009). We detected the T790M mutation, which confers drug resistance, in circulating tumor cells collected from patients with EGFR mutations who had received tyrosine kinase inhibitors. When T790M was detectable in pretreatment tumor-biopsy specimens, the presence of the mutation correlated with reduced progression-free survival (7.7 months vs. 16.5 months, P<0.001). Serial analysis of circulating tumor cells showed that a reduction in the number of captured cells was associated with a radiographic tumor response; an increase in the number of cells was associated with tumor progression, with the emergence of additional EGFR mutations in some cases. Molecular analysis of circulating tumor cells from the blood of patients with lung cancer offers the possibility of monitoring changes in epithelial tumor genotypes during the course of treatment. 2008 Massachusetts Medical Society
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              Tumor self-seeding by circulating cancer cells.

              Cancer cells that leave the primary tumor can seed metastases in distant organs, and it is thought that this is a unidirectional process. Here we show that circulating tumor cells (CTCs) can also colonize their tumors of origin, in a process that we call "tumor self-seeding." Self-seeding of breast cancer, colon cancer, and melanoma tumors in mice is preferentially mediated by aggressive CTCs, including those with bone, lung, or brain-metastatic tropism. We find that the tumor-derived cytokines IL-6 and IL-8 act as CTC attractants whereas MMP1/collagenase-1 and the actin cytoskeleton component fascin-1 are mediators of CTC infiltration into mammary tumors. We show that self-seeding can accelerate tumor growth, angiogenesis, and stromal recruitment through seed-derived factors including the chemokine CXCL1. Tumor self-seeding could explain the relationships between anaplasia, tumor size, vascularity and prognosis, and local recurrence seeded by disseminated cells following ostensibly complete tumor excision. Copyright 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                EMBO Mol Med
                EMBO Mol Med
                emmm
                EMBO Molecular Medicine
                BlackWell Publishing Ltd (Oxford, UK )
                1757-4676
                1757-4684
                January 2015
                14 November 2014
                : 7
                : 1
                : 1-11
                Affiliations
                Department of Tumor Biology, Center of Experimental Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf Hamburg, Germany
                Author notes
                *Corresponding author. Tel: +49 40 7410 53503; E-mail: pantel@ 123456uke.de
                [†]

                Contributed equally

                Article
                10.15252/emmm.201303698
                4309663
                25398926
                © 2014 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license

                This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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