Author(s): Ghossein RA, Bhattacharya S, Rosai J
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Abstract The detection of circulating tumor cells and micrometastases may have important prognostic and therapeutic implications. Because their numbers can be very small, these tumor cells are not easily detected using conventional methods. In the last decade, molecular techniques have been widely used for the detection of occult tumor cells. The objective of this report is the application of these molecular tools to solid tumors. A systematic review of all related English-language articles published in the last 32 years was performed. The molecular detection of occult tumor cells can be accomplished by PCR amplification of tumor-specific abnormalities present in the DNA or mRNA of malignant cells. The other main PCR strategy for the detection of CTC and micrometastases involves amplification of tissue-specific mRNA. This latter method was often applied to solid tumors, whereas the former was occasionally used. PCR was shown to be superior to conventional techniques in detecting occult tumor cells, allowing the identification of 1 malignant cell mixed with 1 to 10 million normal cells. In some reports, PCR is shown to be a strong predictor of outcome. The molecular detection of circulating tumor cells and micrometastases in solid tumors can be accomplished using highly sensitive PCR assays. The central question of whether PCR reliably predicts relapse and survival remains unanswered for many types of solid tumor. If PCR-based assays are found to be a reliable tool, they will likely have a major impact on the management of these malignancies.
This article was published in Clin Cancer Res
and referenced in Journal of Integrative Oncology