Melanoma Molecular Maps Projects



Title: Circulating tumor cells and melanoma: a systematic databank
Legend: The search for minimal residual disease (MRD) in the peripheral blood is routinely performed for the therapeutic management of patients with hematological malignancies, as the bloodstream is the "physiological" milieu for this kind of tumors. By contrast, the biological significance of circulating tumor cells (CTC) in solid tumors is still debated. CTC are currently believed to be a necessary but not sufficient step towards the formation of distant metastasis. The presence of CTC in the peripheral blood of patients with solid cancer can be assessed by two main methods: A) the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based methods, and B) the cytometry based methods. The former was the first to be set up (in patients with melanoma) and hinges upon the detection of mRNA coding for tumor-specific markers (e.g. tyrosinase, gp100 and other melanogenesis-related proteins for melanoma). The latter, which has been developed more recently and has been applied mainly in the case of breast cancer, hinges upon tumor cell enrichment (generally by means of antibodies to cell surface tumor markers such as cytokeratins) followed by semi-automated microscopy. The largest experience in this field has been gained in patients affected with melanoma: although tens of studies have been performed and thousands of patients have been enrolled, there is no consensus on CTC biological significance in patients with melanoma (as well as other solid malignancies), and thus on the use of CTC in the routine clinical setting. The present is a comprehensive databank of clinical studies investigating the detection of CTC in patients with melanoma: while reporting the findings, the attention has been focused on the impact of CTC detection on patients' prognosis. The only restriction applied during the literature search was the sample size (>/= 30). The most recent meta-analysis on this subject (highlighted with the red line) summarizes the results of the first 53 studies. nr = not reported; OS: overall survival; PFS: progression free survival. REFERENCES: [1] Alix-Panabières C, Clin Cancer Res 2008, 14:5013-21. [2] Jacob K, Expert Rev Proteomics 2007, 4:741-56. [3] Sleijfer S, Eur J Cancer 2007, 43:2645-50. [4] Paterlini-Brechot P, Cancer Lett 2007, 253:180-204.
Author: Maurizia Modenato, PhD, (updated: December 2008)

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