Research Papers:

Prognostic significance of circulating tumor cells in non-small cell lung cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy

Bing Tong, Yan Xu, Jing Zhao, Minjiang Chen, Jia Xing, Wei Zhong _ and Mengzhao Wang

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:86615-86624. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.21255

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Bing Tong1,*, Yan Xu1,*, Jing Zhao1, Minjiang Chen1, Jia Xing2, Wei Zhong1 and Mengzhao Wang1

1Department of Respiratory Medicine, Lung Cancer Center, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Peking Union Medical College, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, 100730 P.R. China

2Cyttel Biosciences Inc., Beijing, 101111 P.R. China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Wei Zhong, email: [email protected]

Mengzhao Wang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: circulating tumor cell, non-small cell lung cancer, biomarker, prognosis, chemotherapeutic response

Received: June 24, 2017     Accepted: August 23, 2017     Published: September 23, 2017


The utility of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) as prognostic biomarkers in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is inconclusive due to the limitations of current CTC detection methods. Using a novel high-efficiency detection method, we determined the ability of CTCs to predict survival and chemotherapeutic responses in NSCLC. In 127 patients with advanced NSCLC, CTCs were counted and analyzed at baseline and during follow-up. Median overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) were longer in patients with baseline CTC counts <8 CTCs/3.2 mL (20.0 vs. 10.4 months [P = 0.009] and 7.2 vs. 5.5 months [P < 0.001], respectively). Patients with post-treatment increases in the CTC count had poorer OS and PFS than those without increases (12.0 vs. 13.3 months [P = 0.028] and 5.2 vs. 6.4 months [P = 0.022], respectively). There was no association between the baseline CTC count and chemotherapeutic response (P = 0.734). However, the rate of progressive disease in patients with and without post-treatment increases in the CTC count were 15.6% and 2.4% (P = 0.042), respectively. The baseline CTC count and the change in the CTC count during treatment were both valuable prognostic indicators for NSCLC.

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