Circulating Tumour Cells (CTCs)


Circulating Tumour Cells (CTCs) sparked scientific interest over fifty years ago and their detection and analysis is proving to be a highly sought-after tool in the individualisation of cancer diagnosis and treatment.

It is very well established that Circulating Tumour Cells are essential for the establishment of metastases: they function as the single haematological route of malignancies. In fact, ‘metastatic insufficiency’ is officially defined as the elimination of CTCs.CTCs are a subpopulation of tumour cells derived from the primary cancer site that have:

·      Detached from the primary tumour mass

  • Adopted genetic mutations that enabled migration through the basement membrane (epithelial tumours) and extracellular matrix
  • Dedifferentiated or undergone the Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (carcinoma derived cells only)
  • Entered into the peripheral blood stream where the circulate as tumour cells with metastatic potential – this is the point at which they are termned ‘Circulating Tumour Cells’ (CTCs).
  • Have the potential to disseminate and proliferate as a metastatic lesion
  • Can stimulate angiogenesis
  • May have stem-cell like or tumour initiating properties

Maintrac® CTC Count Test The Maintrac CTC Count test is a simple blood test finds every Circulating Tumour Cell present in the blood. CTCs in a 15-20mL sample of patient blood are detected and quantified. Live cells are distinguished from fragmented tumour cells and analysed. CTC-count is an independent prognostic indicator, that is, it gives an indication of the aggressiveness of a patient’s cancer at the time of the test. A single CTC count test is intended as a simple baseline count. The best way to monitor cancer activity and long-term effectiveness of treatment is via a single CTC Count test every 3-6 months.


Circulating Tumour Cells (CTCs) sparked scientific