A few years ago, the analysis of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood of patients with cancer was defined by the term “real-time liquid biopsy.” Blood samples can be obtained and analyzed at the time of diagnosis and repeatedly during the systemic treatment. The analysis of the liquid biopsy has provided new insights into the biology of metastasis with important implications for the clinical management of cancer patients. In this review, we updated all technical strategies developed to improve enrichment, detection, and characterization of CTCs. We also focused on their biological properties as well as on their clinical relevance in different cancer types. At the end, we opened the discussion to all the other circulating biomarkers used as liquid biopsy.
Part of the book: Molecular Medicine