Circulating tumor cells in colorectal cancer patients

Francesco Torino, Enzo Bonmassar, Laura Bonmassar, Liana De Vecchis, Agnese Barnabei, Cecilia Zuppi, Ettore Domenico Capoluongo, Angelo Aquino

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34 Citations (Scopus)


The availability of sensitive methods has allowed the detailed study of circulating tumor cells only recently. Evolving evidence support the prognostic and predictive role of these cells in patients affected by several solid tumors, including colorectal cancer. Ongoing studies are aimed at confirming that the molecular characterization of circulating tumor cells in peripheral blood and in bone marrow of patients is a powerful tool to improve the patient risk-stratification, to monitor activity of the drugs, to develop more appropriate targeted therapies and tailored treatments. In parallel, results from these correlative studies promise to gain a better biological understanding of the metastatic process. The clinical utility of the detection of circulating tumor cells in patients affected by colorectal cancer is still hampered by a number of specific hurdles. Improvement in sensitivity and specificity of the available methods of detection, standardization of these methods and functional characterization of circulating tumor cells in well designed and statistically well powered studies are the key steps to reach these ambitious objectives in colorectal cancer patients as well. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-772
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Treatment Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Circulating tumor cells
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Predictive factor
  • Prognostic factor


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