A Collective Route to Head and Neck Cancer Metastasis

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Scientific Reports, 2018, 8 (1)
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2018 The Author(s). Distant metastasis (DM) from head and neck cancers (HNC) portends a poor patient prognosis. Despite its important biological role, little is known about the cells which seed these DM. Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) represent a transient cancer cell population, which circulate in HNC patients' peripheral blood and seed at distant sites. Capture and analysis of CTCs offers insights into tumour metastasis and can facilitate treatment strategies. Whilst the data on singular CTCs have shown clinical significance, the role of CTC clusters in metastasis remains limited. In this pilot study, we assessed 60 treatment naïve HNC patients for CTCs with disease ranging from early to advanced stages, for CTC clusters utilizing spiral CTC enrichment technology. Single CTCs were isolated in 18/60-30% (Ranging from Stage I-IV), CTC clusters in 15/60-25% (exclusively Stage IV) with 3/15-20% of CTC clusters also containing leukocytes. The presence of CTC clusters associated with the development of distant metastatic disease(P = 0.0313). This study demonstrates that CTC clusters are found in locally advanced patients, and this may be an important prognostic marker. In vivo and in vitro studies are warranted to determine the role of these CTC clusters, in particular, whether leukocyte involvement in CTC clusters has clinical relevance.
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