Objectives: To determine whether circulating tumor cells (CTCs) predict for survival in patients with metastatic prostate cancer (PCa) and to compare its prognostic abilities with other clinical factors.
Methods: Blood samples from 37 patients with metastatic PCa were analyzed for CTCs. CTCs were enriched from 7.5 mL blood using magnetic nanoparticles targeting the epithelial cell adhesion molecule and then fluorescently labeled. The samples were analyzed by multiparameter flow cytometry, and events with appropriate light scatter properties that were nucleic acid dye positive, cytokeratin positive, and CD45 negative were defined as CTCs.
Results: The number of CTCs found ranged from 0 to 8586 per 7.5 mL (mean 530 +/- 1887, median 5). A threshold of 5 or more CTCs per 7.5 mL of blood was used to evaluate the ability of CTCs to predict for overall survival. Of the 37 patients, 23 (62%) had 5 or more CTCs, with a median overall survival of 0.70 year compared with more than 4 years for those patients with fewer than 5 CTCs (log-rank P = 0.002, Cox hazards ratio 7.4). In the subset of 26 patients with hormone-refractory PCa, the presence of CTCs was the most significant parameter predictive of survival in univariate and multivariate analyses.
Conclusions: In this pilot study, the presence of 5 or more CTCs in 7.5 mL blood was associated with poor overall survival in patients with metastatic PCa.