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Pancreas. 2016 Sep;45(8):1131-5. doi: 10.1097/MPA.0000000000000619.

Prognostic Significance of MUC-1 in Circulating Tumor Cells in Patients With Metastatic Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma.

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From the *Department of Medical Oncology, †Protocol Support Laboratory, and ‡Biostatistics Facility, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA; §South Jersey Regional Hospital, Vineland, NJ; ∥Clinical Trials Office, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA; and ¶Division of Hematology and Oncology, University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH.



Development of targeted therapies for pancreatic cancer could be enhanced by a reliable method for noninvasive tumor cell assessment. In this pilot study, we isolated and phenotypically characterized circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer and explored their relationship to clinical outcome.


Peripheral blood from 50 patients was collected at treatment initiation and first disease evaluation for CTC enumeration and phenotyping by CellSearch® system. Expression of human mucin 1 (MUC-1) was performed.


Forty-eight and 37 patients had evaluable samples at baseline and first disease evaluation, respectively. The cohort was 62% male, with a median age of 63 years. At least 1 CTC per 7.5 mL was detected in 23 patients (48%) pretreatment and 11 patients (30%) at first disease evaluation. No difference was seen in overall survival between patients with 1 or more CTCs versus no CTC at baseline (P = 0.14). Patients with MUC-1 expressing CTC (n = 10) had shorter median overall survival compared with those with MUC-1 negative CTC (n = 13; 2.7 vs 9.6 m; P = 0.044).


Circulating tumor cell enumeration and phenotypic characterization from metastatic pancreatic cancer patients are feasible. No correlation was found between CTC isolation and survival. However, the presence of MUC-1 expressing CTC demonstrated a trend toward inferior survival.

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