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Clin Breast Cancer. 2012 Aug;12(4):264-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clbc.2012.04.004. Epub 2012 May 15.

Relationship between lymphocytopenia and circulating tumor cells as prognostic factors for overall survival in metastatic breast cancer.

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Department of Breast Medical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.



Lymphocytopenia and circulating tumor cells (CTCs) have been reported as independent prognostic factors for overall survival (OS) in metastatic breast cancer (MBC), and both have been associated with bone metastases. Our objective was to compare the prognostic significance of lymphocytopenia, CTC count, and extensive bone metastases (> 2 lesions) assessed by fluorine-18 ((18)F) fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT) in patients with MBC.


This is a retrospective study that included patients with MBC who were starting a new line of systemic therapy. The study population consisted of patients treated at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center between 2004 and 2008 for whom baseline CTC count, lymphocyte counts, and FDG-PET/CT scans were available. Patients were stratified according to estrogen receptor status (positive vs. negative), human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) status (amplified vs. constitutive), baseline CTC counts per 7.5 mL of blood (< 5 CTCs/7.5 mL of blood vs. ≥ 5 CTCs/7.5 mL of blood), lymphocytopenia (< 1000 vs. ≥ 1000/μL), and extensive bone metastases (> 2 vs. ≤ 2 lesions).


In 195 assessable patients, the median OS was 27 months (range, 1 to > 45 months). In multivariate analysis, lymphocytopenia, ≥ 5 CTCs/7.5 mL of blood, estrogen receptor status, and line of therapy were the only predictive factors for progression-free survival (PFS) (2P = .001, 2P = .032, 2P = .029, and 2P = .002, respectively) and OS (2P = .001, 2P = .009, 2P = .004, and 2P = .024, respectively).


CTC measurement and lymphocytopenia are independent prognostic factors for PFS and OS in patients with MBC.

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