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Med Sci Monit. 2018 Jan 16;24:324-331.

High Number of Circulating Tumor Cells Predicts Poor Survival of Cutaneous Melanoma Patients in China.

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Department of Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery, The People's Hospital of Weifang, Weifang, Shandong, China (mainland).


BACKGROUND Melanoma is an aggressive cancer with complex etiology and poor prognosis. Surgical resection is still the primary treatment of melanoma, but shows limited efficacy in late-stage patients. Additionally, reliable prognostic markers of skin melanoma patients are still lacking. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) have shown promise in predicting prognosis of multiple cancers. Evaluating the prognostic value of CTC number in melanoma patients. MATERIAL AND METHODS CTCs were isolated by immunomagnetic capture from 7.5-mL samples of blood from 100 patients with cutaneous melanoma. Baseline CTC number (pre-treatment) and post-treatment CTC number were measured. Baseline CTC number and CTC number alteration were correlated with clinicopathological features and survival. RESULTS Forty-three (43%) patients had more than 6 CTCs, whereas 57 (57%) had 6 cells or less. High baseline CTC count was associated with deep local invasion, lymph node metastasis, and distance metastasis, with P value of 0.003, 0.047, and 0.034, respectively. High baseline CTC count was also correlated with short overall survival time and was considered as an independent prognostic factor (P value=0.012, hazard ratio=2.262). CTC cell alteration was associated with progression-free survival and disease-specific survival (with P values of 0.012 and 0.009, respectively). CONCLUSIONS Baseline CTC count was correlated with adverse pathological features and was predictive of survival in melanoma patients. Alteration of CTC count before and after treatment was an indicator of therapy response and prognosis. Measuring the baseline and post-treatment CTC counts is a powerful tool in monitoring melanoma progression, drug response, and survival.

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