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Andergassen, Ulrich; Kölbl, Alexandra C.; Mahner, Sven and Jeschke, Udo (2016): Real-time RT-PCR systems for CTC detection from blood samples of breast cancer and gynaecological tumour patients. In: Oncology Reports, Vol. 35, No. 4: pp. 1905-1915

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Cells, which detach from a primary epithelial tumour and migrate through lymphatic vessels and blood stream are called 'circulating tumour cells'. These cells are considered to be the main root of remote metastasis and are correlated to a worse prognosis concerning progression-free and overall survival of the patients. Therefore, the detection of the minimal residual disease is of great importance regarding therapeutic decisions. Many different detection strategies are already available, but only one method, the CellSearch (R) system, reached FDA approval. The present review focusses on the detection of circulating tumour cells by means of real-time PCR, a highly sensitive method based on differences in gene expression between normal and malignant cells. Strategies for an enrichment of tumour cells are mentioned, as well as a large panel of potential marker genes. Drawbacks and advantages of the technique are elucidated, whereas, the greatest advantage might be, that by selection of appropriate marker genes, also tumour cells, which have already undergone epithelial to mesenchymal transition can be detected. Finally, the application of real-time PCR in different gynaecological malignancies is described, with breast cancer being the most studied cancer entity.

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