Circulating Tumour Cells in Lung Cancer

  • Francesca Chemi
  • Sumitra Mohan
  • Ged BradyEmail author
Part of the Recent Results in Cancer Research book series (RECENTCANCER, volume 215)


Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) constitute a potential tumour surrogate that could serve as “liquid biopsy” with the advantage to be a minimally invasive approach compared to traditional tissue biopsies. As CTCs are thought to be the source of metastatic lesions, their analysis represents a potential means of tracking cancer cells from the primary tumour en route to distant sites, thus providing valuable insights into the metastatic process. However, several problems, such as their rarity in the peripheral blood, the technical limitations of single-cell downstream analysis and their phenotypic variability, make CTC detection and molecular characterisation very challenging. Nevertheless, in the last decade, there has been an exponential increase of interest in the development of powerful cellular and molecular methodologies applied to CTCs. In this chapter, we focus on the recent advances of functional studies and molecular profiling of CTCs. We will also highlight the clinical relevance of CTC detection and enumeration, and discuss their potential as tumour biomarkers with special focus on lung cancer.


Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) Functional studies Liquid biopsy Biomarkers Lung cancer 



We would like to acknowledge Caroline Dive for her advice in writing this chapter. We would like to also acknowledge the help of the CR-UK Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology Group (C5759/A20971) for their support of this study, as well as the financial support from Medical Research Council Manchester Single Cell Research Centre (MR/M008908/1). FC is funded by Cancer-ID (115749-Cancer-ID), and SM is funded by AstraZeneca (D1330N00013).


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology Group, Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, University of Manchester, Alderley ParkMacclesfieldUK

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