Tumor Biology

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 991–996 | Cite as

Portal vein-circulating tumor cells predict liver metastases in patients with resectable pancreatic cancer

  • Massimiliano Bissolati
  • Maria Teresa Sandri
  • Giovanni Burtulo
  • Laura Zorzino
  • Gianpaolo Balzano
  • Marco Braga
Research Article


Pancreatic cancer patients underwent surgical resection often present distant metastases early after surgery. Detection of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) has been correlated to a worse oncological outcome in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. The objective of this pilot study is to investigate the possible prognostic role of CTCs in patients undergoing surgery for pancreatic cancer. In 20 patients undergoing pancreatic resection, 10 mL blood sample was collected intraoperatively from both systemic circulation (SC) and portal vein (PV). Blood sample was analyzed for CTCs with CellSearch® system. All patients underwent an oncologic follow-up for at least 3 years, quarterly. CTCs were detected in nine (45 %) patients: five patients had CTCs in PV only, three patients in both SC and PV, and one patient in SC only. CTC-positive and CTC-negative patients were similar for demographics and cancer stage pattern. No significant differences were found in both overall and disease-free survival between CTC-positive and CTC-negative patients. At 3-year follow-up, portal vein CTC-positive patients presented a higher rate of liver metastases than CTC-negative patients (53 vs. 8 %, p = 0.038). CTCs were found in 45 % of the patients. No correlation between CTCs and survival was found. The presence of CTCs in portal vein has been associated to higher rate of liver metastases after surgery.


Circulating tumor cells Pancreatic cancer Surgery Portal vein Liver metastases 


Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Massimiliano Bissolati
    • 1
  • Maria Teresa Sandri
    • 2
  • Giovanni Burtulo
    • 1
  • Laura Zorzino
    • 2
  • Gianpaolo Balzano
    • 1
  • Marco Braga
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryVita-Salute San Raffaele UniversityMilanItaly
  2. 2.Division of Laboratory MedicineEuropean Institute of OncologyMilanItaly

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