Practitioner Information


We test these cells, called 'Circulating Tumour Cells'

Circulating Tumour Cells (CTCs)

Circulating Tumour Cells (CTCs) sparked scientific interest over fifty years ago and their detection and analysis is proving to be a highly sought-after tool in the individualisation of cancer diagnosis and treatment.

It is very well established that Circulating Tumour Cells are essential for the establishment of metastases: they function as the single haematological route of malignancies. In fact, ‘metastatic insufficiency’ is officially defined as the elimination of CTCs.

CTCs are a subpopulation of tumour cells derived from the primary cancer site that have:

  • Detached from the primary tumour mass
  • Adopted genetic mutations that enabled migration through the basement membrane (epithelial tumours) and extracellular matrix
  • Dedifferentiated or undergone the Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (carcinoma derived cells only)
  • Entered into the peripheral blood stream where the circulate as tumour cells with metastatic potential - this is the point at which they are termned 'Circulating Tumour Cells' (CTCs).
  • Have the potential to disseminate and proliferate as a metastatic lesion
  • Can stimulate angiogenesis
  • May have stem-cell like or tumour initiating properties

...Read the rest of this article