Circulating Tumor Cells

  • Costanza Paoletti
  • Daniel F. Hayes
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 882)


Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC) are shed from primary or secondary tumors. Prior studies have demonstrated that enumeration of CTC is a robust independent prognostic factor of progression free and overall survival in patients with early and metastatic breast cancer. CTC, as well as other circulating tumor markers, have the appealing advantages over tissue biopsy of (1) ease of collection, (2) serial evaluation, and (3) interrogation of the entire tumor burden instead of just a limited part of the tumor. Advances have been recently made in phenotyping and genotyping of CTC, which should provide insights into the predictive role of CTC for sensitivity or resistance to therapies. In addition, CTC phenotypic marker changes during the course of treatment may serve as pharmacodynamic monitoring tools. Therefore, CTC may be considered “liquid biopsies,” providing prognostic and predictive clinical information as well as additional understanding of tumor heterogeneity.


Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC) Breast cancer Enumeration Characterization Cluster Prognosis Prediction 



We gratefully acknowledge Celina Kleer, M.D. who provided the pathology images for Fig. 1.


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Copyright information

© Breast Cancer Research Foundation 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Internal MedicineComprehensive Cancer Center, University of Michigan Health and Hospital SystemAnn ArborUSA

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