Metastasis and circulating tumor cells

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Cancer is a prominent cause of death worldwide. In most cases, it is not the primary tumor which causes death, but the metastases. Metastatic tumors are spread over the entire human body and are more difficult to remove or treat than the primary tumor. In a patient with metastatic disease, circulating tumor cells (CTCs) can be found in venous blood. These circulating tumor cells are part of the metastatic cascade. Clinical studies have shown that these cells can be used to predict treatment response and their presence is strongly associated with poor survival prospects. Enumeration and characterization of CTCs is important as this can help clinicians make more informed decisions when choosing or evaluating treatment. CTC counts are being included in an increasing number of studies and thus are becoming a bigger part of disease diagnosis and therapy management. We present an overview of the most prominent CTC enumeration and characterization methods and discuss the assumptions made about the CTC phenotype. Extensive CTC characterization of for example the DNA, RNA and antigen expression may lead to more understanding of the metastatic process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • IR-82812
  • METIS-289049


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