Detection of circulating tumor cells as a prognostic factor in patients undergoing radical surgery for non-small-cell lung carcinoma: comparison of the efficacy of the CellSearch Assay™ and the isolation by size of epithelial tumor cell method

Int J Cancer. 2011 Oct 1;129(7):1651-60. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25819. Epub 2011 Mar 11.


Comparison of the efficacy of different enrichment methods for detection of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) before radical surgery is lacking in non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) patients. Detection and enumeration of CTCs in 210 consecutive patients undergoing radical surgery for NSCLC were evaluated with the CellSearch Assay™ (CS), using the CellSearch Epithelial Cell Kit, and by the isolation by size of epithelial tumor (ISET) method, using double immunolabeling with anti-cytokeratin and anti-vimentin antibodies. CTCs were detected in 144 of 210 (69%) patients using CS and/or ISET and in 104 of 210 (50%) and 82 of 210 (39%) patients using ISET and CS, respectively. Using ISET, 23 of 210 (11%) patients had vimentin-positive cells with cytological criteria of malignancy. Disease-free survival (DFS) was worse for patients with CTCs compared to patients without CTCs detected by CS alone (p < 0.0001; log rank = 30.59) or by ISET alone (p < 0.0001; log rank = 33.07). The presence of CTCs detected by both CS and ISET correlated even better with shorter DFS at a univariate (p < 0.0001; log rank = 42.15) and multivariate level (HR, 1.235; 95% CI, 1.056-1.482; p < 0.001). CS and ISET are complementary methods for detection of CTCs in preoperative radical surgery for NSCLC. CTC detection in resectable NSCLC patients using CS and/or ISET could be a prognostic biomarker of great interest and may open up new avenues into improved therapeutic strategies for lung carcinoma patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / blood*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / surgery
  • Cell Count / methods*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / pathology*
  • Prognosis