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Cancers 2014, 6(1), 595-624; doi:10.3390/cancers6010595
Review

Recent Advances in the Molecular Characterization of Circulating Tumor Cells

1,2,3
 and 1,2,3,4,*
Received: 2 September 2013; in revised form: 28 January 2014 / Accepted: 20 February 2014 / Published: 13 March 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circulating Tumor Cells in Cancers)
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Abstract: Although circulating tumor cells (CTCs) were first observed over a century ago, lack of sensitive methodology precluded detailed study of these cells until recently. However, technological advances have now facilitated the identification, enumeration, and characterization of CTCs using a variety of methods. The majority of evidence supporting the use of CTCs in clinical decision-making has been related to enumeration using the CellSearch® system and correlation with prognosis. Growing evidence also suggests that CTC monitoring can provide an early indication of patient treatment response based on comparison of CTC levels before and after therapy. However, perhaps the greatest potential that CTCs hold for oncology lies at the level of molecular characterization. Clinical treatment decisions may be more effective if they are based on molecular characteristics of metastatic cells rather than on those of the primary tumor alone. Molecular characterization of CTCs (which can be repeatedly isolated in a minimally invasive fashion) provides the opportunity for a “real-time liquid biopsy” that allows assessment of genetic drift, investigation of molecular disease evolution, and identification of actionable genomic characteristics. This review focuses on recent advances in this area, including approaches involving immunophenotyping, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), multiplex RT-PCR, microarray, and genomic sequencing.
Keywords: cancer; metastasis; circulating tumor cells (CTCs); molecular characterization; prognosis; prediction cancer; metastasis; circulating tumor cells (CTCs); molecular characterization; prognosis; prediction
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Lowes, L.E.; Allan, A.L. Recent Advances in the Molecular Characterization of Circulating Tumor Cells. Cancers 2014, 6, 595-624.

AMA Style

Lowes LE, Allan AL. Recent Advances in the Molecular Characterization of Circulating Tumor Cells. Cancers. 2014; 6(1):595-624.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lowes, Lori E.; Allan, Alison L. 2014. "Recent Advances in the Molecular Characterization of Circulating Tumor Cells." Cancers 6, no. 1: 595-624.


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