Advances in genomic characterization of circulating tumor cells

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2014 Sep;33(2-3):757-69. doi: 10.1007/s10555-014-9503-7.


Molecular characterization of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) found in the blood of cancer patients offers the potential to provide new insights into the biology of cancer metastasis. However, since they are rare and difficult to isolate, the molecular nature of CTCs remains poorly understood. In this paper, we reviewed a decade's worth of scientific literature (2003-2013) describing efforts on isolation and genomic analysis of CTCs. The limited number of CTC genomic studies we found attested to the infancy of this field of study. These initial reports, however, provide an important framework for future comprehensive exploration of CTC biology. For CTCs to be broadly accepted as therapeutic targets and biomarkers of metastatic spread, further in-depth molecular characterization is warranted.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Separation / methods
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Genomics* / methods
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating*