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A circulating tumor cell has sloughed off cancerous tissue and moves through the bloodstream to a new site.

Circulating Tumor Cells Assay

  • CTC enumeration helps in determining the prognosis of a patient in metastatic breast, metastatic colon & metastatic prostate cancer. Falling CTCs after initiation of therapy indicates a better prognosis compared to where the counts are same or rising.
  • CTC is checked at three time points –before initiation of therapy, after completion of first cycle & one year later.
  • Defined threshold values for CTC counts for specified cancers such as Breast, Prostate, Colorectal cases, helps to assess disease status even at the baseline CTC count.
  • CTCs can be isolated for further molecular characterization so that the behavior of the tumor can be assessed in real time and  treatment can be planned accordingly.
  • Early detection of CTC helps to take interventional measures.

Benefits over PET/CT scan

  • CTC findings are available after the first cycle of chemotherapy or radiotherapy where as PET would take 2-3 months to show findings.
  • Detection of malignancy is not masked by inflammation/infection /healing tissue
  • Benign conditions are not misinterpreted as malignant
  • No radiation risk due to radioactive material
  • No restriction about tumor size