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Circulating Tumor Cells: Evolving Role in Pathologic Analysis and Clinical Decision Making

Aragon-Ching, Jeanny B. MD*; Nolan, Norris MD; Schwartz, Arnold M. MD, PhD†‡

doi: 10.1097/PCR.0000000000000051
Case Reviews

The identification of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in patients with solid cancers represents a putative biomarker that may be associated with disease progression and metastatic behavior. The technique of enumerating CTCs has been reported to enable improved disease prognostication and monitoring of treatment. As a result, this approach has gained increasing interest in the field of cancer management and prognosis. Several studies have shown utility in a variety of clinical conditions, ranging from early localized disease to disseminated metastatic cancer. We present the potential application of CTC determination in 2 patients with prostate cancer. Understanding its potential prognostic information as well as its methodological limitations is of paramount importance in order to better interpret the results in the context of a particular patient with cancer.

From the *Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, and Departments of †Pathology and ‡Surgery, The George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Reprints: Arnold M. Schwartz, MD, PhD, Department of Pathology, The George Washington University Medical Center, 900 23rd St NW, Washington, DC 20037. E-mail:

This work was funded in part by the Dr Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen Cancer Research Center at The George Washington University.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.