Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) refer to cells found in the peripheral blood, which are derived from the primary or secondary tumour. They serve as an alternative to study the biology of the primary tumour especially when tissue biopsy is not available. However, major challenges in CTC analysis are the rarity of these cells and the purity of the isolated population. The advancement in technologies allows detection and enrichment of sufficiently pure CTCs at the single-cell level, facilitating downstream molecular characterisation. Single CTC analysis allows detection of key mutations that may be critical to disease management and helps to address the intercellular differences among tumour cells. In this chapter, we discuss the technologies for CTC isolation and the use of CTCs in achieving early detection and prognosis of cancer, real-time monitoring of cancer therapy and tailoring of personalised treatments.
Part of the book: Liquid Biopsy