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Alunni-Fabbroni, Marianna; Müller, Volkmar; Fehm, Tanja; Janni, Wolfgang; Rack, Brigitte (2014): Monitoring in metastatic breast cancer: Is imaging outdated in the era of circulating tumor cells? In: Breast Care, Vol. 9, No. 1: pp. 16-21


In clinical practice imaging technologies such as computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET)/CT and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are well-established methods for monitoring metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients and for assessing therapeutic efficacy. However, several weeks of treatment are required before these technologies can offer any reliable information on effective disease regression, and, in the meanwhile, the patients are exposed to potentially unnecessary therapy. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) have been shown to be powerful prognostic and predictive markers and provide clinicians with valuable information. However, in one clinical trial, an early change of chemotherapy based on CTC detection did not result in improved survival. Currently, CTC detection outside clinical trials should be limited to selected clinical situations, i.e. increased treatment toxicity or as risk estimation.