Abstract The enumeration of circulating tumor cells has long been regarded as an attractive diagnostic tool, as circulating tumor cells are thought to reflect aggressiveness of the tumor and may assist in therapeutic decisions in patients with solid malignancies. However, implementation of this assay into clinical routine has been cumbersome, as a validated test was not available until recently. Circulating tumor cells are rare events which can be detected specifically only by using a combination of surface and intracellular markers, and only recently a number of technical advances have made their reliable detection possible. Most of these new techniques rely on a combination of an enrichment and a detection step. This review addresses the assays that have been described so far in the literature, including the enrichment and detection steps and the markers used in these assays. We have focused on breast cancer as most clinical studies on CTC detection so far have been done in these patients.

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Keywords Breast Neoplasms/*blood/*pathology, Breast cancer, Circulating tumor cells, Cytological Techniques/methods, Detection technique, Enrichment technique, Female, Humans, Immunomagnetic separation, Neoplastic Cells, Circulating/*pathology, Prognosis, RT-PCR, Tumor Markers, Biological/*analysis
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctrv.2009.03.004, hdl.handle.net/1765/21373
Citation
Mostert, B., Sleijfer, S., Foekens, J.A., & Gratama, J.W.. (2009). Circulating tumor cells (CTCs): detection methods and their clinical relevance in breast cancer. Cancer Treatment Reviews, 35(5), 463–474. doi:10.1016/j.ctrv.2009.03.004