Circulating tumor cells: Advances in isolation and analysis, and challenges for clinical applications

Ramdane Harouaka, Zhigang Kang, Si Yang Zheng, Liang Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are rare cancer cells released from tumors into the bloodstream that are thought to have a key role in cancer metastasis. The presence of CTCs has been associated with worse prognosis in several major cancer types, including breast, prostate and colorectal cancer. There is considerable interest in CTC research and technologies for their potential use as cancer biomarkers that may enhance cancer diagnosis and prognosis, facilitate drug development, and improve the treatment of cancer patients. This review provides an update on recent progress in CTC isolation and molecular characterization technologies. Furthermore, the review covers significant advances and limitations in the clinical applications of CTC-based assays for cancer prognosis, response to anti-cancer therapies, and exploratory studies in biomarkers predictive of sensitivity and resistance to cancer therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-221
Number of pages13
JournalPharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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