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Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. 2007 Oct;7(10):1463-72.

Significance of micrometastasis in bone marrow and blood of operable breast cancer patients: research tool or clinical application?

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The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Department of Surgical Oncology, Unit 444, 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Approximately 25% of breast cancer patients without lymph node metastases develop systemic relapse. A growing body of data supports the notion that hematogenous dissemination of breast cancer cells occurs independently of lymphatic spread of disease; however, current clinical practice does not involve routine analysis of circulating or disseminated cells. Recent studies have documented that both circulating tumor cells (CTCs) within the blood and disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) in bone marrow can be identified using a variety of techniques. It is now clear that the presence of DTCs correlates with subsequent development of clinically evident bone metastases, and a worse outcome from breast cancer. While there are data identifying prognostic significance of CTCs in patients with metastatic breast cancer, there are few data regarding CTCs in operable patients. Factors such as presence of a cancer stem cell phenotype and/or certain microenvironmental conditions are involved in the establishment of distant metastases from a primary breast cancer, emphasizing the need for further studies within this area. The purpose of this report is to review the data regarding CTCs and DTCs in patients with operable breast cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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