Detection, clinical relevance and specific biological properties of disseminating tumour cells

Nat Rev Cancer. 2008 May;8(5):329-40. doi: 10.1038/nrc2375.


Most cancer deaths are caused by haematogenous metastatic spread and subsequent growth of tumour cells at distant organs. Disseminating tumour cells present in the peripheral blood and bone marrow can now be detected and characterized at the single-cell level. These cells are highly relevant to the study of the biology of early metastatic spread and provide a diagnostic source in patients with overt metastases. Here we review the evidence that disseminating tumour cells have a variety of uses for understanding tumour biology and improving cancer treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Carcinoma / therapy*
  • Cell Separation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neoplasm, Residual
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / metabolism*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / pathology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods