The significant prognostic value of circulating tumor cells in triple-negative breast cancer: a meta-analysis

Yan-jun Lu, Peng Wang, Xiong Wang, Jing Peng, Yao-wu Zhu and Na Shen _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:37361-37369. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8156

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Yan-jun Lu1,*, Peng Wang2,*, Xiong Wang1, Jing Peng1, Yao-wu Zhu1 and Na Shen1

1 Department of Laboratory Medicine, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

2 Institute and Department of Infectious Disease, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

* These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Na Shen, email:

Keywords: triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC); circulating tumor cells (CTCs); prognosis

Received: September 18, 2015 Accepted: February 29, 2016 Published: March 17, 2016


Background: The clinical validity of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) is still controversial in patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).

Methods: A comprehensive literature search was performed to identify relevant articles in the PubMed, Web of Science, MEDLINE, and Embase databases through September 2015. The outcomes of interest were disease progression and overall survival. The hazard ratio (HR) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) were considered the effect indicators and were pooled in meta-analyses under a fixed- or random-effect model according to heterogeneity.

Results: Ten of the eligible studies were included for a total of 642 enrolled TNBC patients. Overall analyses revealed that the presence of CTCs predicted aggressive disease progression (HR = 2.18, 95% CI = 1.59-2.99, Pheterogeneity = 0.010, I2 = 52.2%) and reduced overall survival (HR = 2.02, 95% CI = 1.59-2.57, Pheterogeneity = 0.169, I2 = 26.6%). Further subgroup analyses demonstrated that CTC-positive patients also had poor disease progression and overall survival in different subsets, including cancer stage.

Conclusion: Our meta-analysis provides strong evidence that detection of CTC in the peripheral blood is an independent prognosticator of poor survival outcomes for TNBC patients.

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