Molecular biomarkers for the detection of metastatic colorectal cancer cells

World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Jul 21;20(27):8928-38. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i27.8928.


Approximately half of all patients with colorectal cancer develop local recurrence or distant metastasis during the course of their illness. Recently, the molecular detection of metastatic cancer cells in various types of clinical samples, such as lymph nodes, bone marrow, peripheral blood, and peritoneal lavage fluid, has been investigated as a potential prognostic marker. The prognostic value of molecular tumor cell detection was independent of the type of detection method used. As assays become more sensitive and quantitative, a more thorough assessment of the cancer status of patients will be based on molecular markers alone. At present, it is difficult to conclude that one specific molecular marker is superior to others. Comparative analyses are recommended to assess the prognostic impact of molecular analyses in the same patient and determine the biomarkers that provide the most accurate prognostic information.

Keywords: Circulating tumor cell; Colorectal cancer; Disseminated tumor cell; Metastatic colorectal cancer cell; Molecular biomarker; Peritoneal lavage fluid.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor* / analysis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor* / blood
  • Biomarkers, Tumor* / genetics
  • Bone Marrow / chemistry
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / blood
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / secondary*
  • DNA Methylation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / chemistry
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • MicroRNAs / analysis
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques*
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / chemistry*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / pathology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Messenger