Filtration based assessment of CTCs and CellSearch® based assessment are both powerful predictors of prognosis for metastatic breast cancer patients
The assessment of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) has been shown to enable monitoring of treatment response and early detection of metastatic breast cancer (MBC) recurrence. The aim of this study was to compare a well-established CTC detection method based on immunomagnetic isolation with a new, filtration-based platform.
In this prospective study, two 7.5 ml blood draws were obtained from 60 MBC patients and CTC enumeration was assessed using both the CellSearch® and the newly developed filtration-based platform. We analyzed the correlation of CTC-positivity between both methods and their ability to predict prognosis. Overall survival (OS) was calculated and Kaplan-Meier curves were estimated with thresholds of ≥1 and ≥5 detected CTCs.
The CTC positivity rate of the CellSearch® system was 56.7% and of the filtration-based platform 66.7%. There was a high correlation of CTC enumeration obtained with both methods. The OS for patients without detected CTCs, regardless of the method used, was significantly higher compared to patients with one or more CTCs (p < 0.001). The median OS of patients with no CTCs vs. ≥ 1 CTC assessed by CellSearch® was 1.83 years (95% CI: 1.63–2.02) vs. 0.74 years (95% CI: 0.51–1.52). If CTCs were detected by the filtration-based method the median OS times were 1.88 years (95% CI: 1.74–2.03) vs. 0.59 years (95% CI: 0.38–0.80).
The newly established EpCAM independently filtration-based system is a suitable method to determine CTC counts for MBC patients. Our study confirms CTCs as being strong predictors of prognosis in our population of MBC patients.