The prognostic and diagnostic value of circulating tumor cells in bladder cancer and upper tract urothelial carcinoma: a meta-analysis of 30 published studies

Zheng Zhang, Wei Fan, Qiaoling Deng, Shihui Tang, Ping Wang, Peipei Xu, June Wang and Mingxia Yu _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:59527-59538. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18521

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Zheng Zhang1, Wei Fan1,2, Qiaoling Deng1, Shihui Tang1, Ping Wang1, Peipei Xu1, June Wang1 and Mingxia Yu1

1Department of Clinical Laboratory, Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei, 430071, China

2Department of Pathology, Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan, Hubei, 430071, China

Correspondence to:

Mingxia Yu, email: [email protected]

Keywords: circulating tumor cells (CTCs), bladder cancer, urothelial cancer, prognosis, meta-analysis

Received: December 29, 2016     Accepted: June 02, 2017     Published: June 16, 2017


There are inconsistent conclusions in the association between circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and urothelial cancer (UC). We performed a meta-analysis to assess the prognostic and diagnostic value of CTCs in UC. We search Medline, Embase and Web of science for relevant studies. The study was set up according to the inclusion/exclusion criteria. 30 published studies with a total of 2161 urothelial cancer patients were included. Meta-analysis showed that CTC-positive was significantly associated with tumor stage (≤ II vs III, IV) (OR = 4.60, 95% CI: 2.34–9.03), histological grade (I, II vs III) (OR = 2.91, 95% CI: 1.92–4.40), metastasis (OR = 5.12, 95% CI: 3.47–7.55) and regional lymph node metastasis (OR = 2.47, 95% CI: 1.75–3.49). It was also significantly associated with poor overall survival (OS) (HR = 3.98, 95% CI: 2.20–7.21), progression/disease-free survival (PFS/DFS) (HR = 2.22, 95% CI: 1.80–2.73) and cancer-specific survival (CSS) (HR = 5.18, 95% CI: 2.21–12.13). Overall sensitivity and specificity of CTC detection assays were 0.35 (95% CI: 0.28–0.43) and 0.97 (95% CI: 0.92–0.99) respectively. In summary, our meta-analysis suggests that the presence of CTCs in the peripheral blood is an independent predictive indicator of poor outcomes for urothelial cancer patients. It can also be used as a noninvasive method for the confirmation of cancer diagnosis. More studies are required to further explore the role of this marker in clinical practice.

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