High-definition imaging of circulating tumor cells and associated cellular events in non-small cell lung cancer patients: a longitudinal analysis
Sampling circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from peripheral blood is ideally accomplished using assays that detect high numbers of cells and preserve them for downstream characterization. We sought to evaluate a method using enrichment free fluorescent labeling of CTCs followed by automated digital microscopy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Twenty-eight patients with non-small cell lung cancer and hematogenously seeded metastasis were analyzed with multiple blood draws. We detected CTCs in 68% of analyzed samples and found a propensity for increased CTC detection as the disease progressed in individual patients. CTCs were present at a median concentration of 1.6 CTCs ml-1 of analyzed blood in the patient population. Higher numbers of detected CTCs were associated with an unfavorable prognosis.