Clinical and Translational Oncology

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 204–208 | Cite as

Circulating tumour cells in peripheral blood: potential impact on breast cancer outcome

  • María José SerranoEmail author
  • José Antonio Lorente
  • Miguel Delgado Rodríguez
  • Ana Fernández
  • Mónica Fernández
  • Capilla de la Torre
  • Jaime Fernández Izquierdo
  • Pedro Sánchez Rovira
Research Articles



In breast cancer, the metastatic process may involve the dissemination of circulating tumour cells (CTCs) through the blood and lymphatic system prior to the colonisation of distant organs. Here we demonstrate the predictive capacity of CTCs for detecting risk of death in breast cancer patients during established time intervals.


CTCs were identified by immunocytochemical methods following isolation by selective immunomagnetic cell separation of cytokeratin-positive cells. Serial blood samples from 65 patients were collected at roughly monthly intervals for up to 50 months. Follow-up was conducted at different intervals: 1–5, >5–12, >12–24 and >24–50 months.


Both presence and number of CTCs were correlated to risk of death: patients with CTCs at any time during follow-up had a higher risk of death (p=0.035) than patients without CTCs. Furthermore, during the first 5 months of therapy, patients with >5 CTCs had a higher risk of death than patients with <5 CTCs (p=0.002).


Our results show that the persistence of CTCs after chemotherapy, particularly during the first 5 months, could define a group of patients with a high risk of relapse.


Breast cancer Chemotherapy Circulating tumour cells Metastasis Survival 


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Copyright information

© Feseo 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • María José Serrano
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • José Antonio Lorente
    • 1
    • 3
  • Miguel Delgado Rodríguez
    • 2
  • Ana Fernández
    • 1
  • Mónica Fernández
    • 4
  • Capilla de la Torre
    • 4
  • Jaime Fernández Izquierdo
    • 1
  • Pedro Sánchez Rovira
    • 4
  1. 1.Pfizer — Universidad de Granada — Junta de AndalucíaCentre for Genomics and Oncological Research (GENYO)GranadaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Health Sciences Faculty of Experimental SciencesUniversity of JaénJaénSpain
  3. 3.Laboratory of Genetic Identification-UGR Department of Legal MedicineUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain
  4. 4.Medical Oncology DepartmentUniversity HospitalJaénSpain

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