The following article features coverage from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2018 meeting. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s conference coverage.

DNA found in circulating tumor cells (CTCs) may not match that found in primary non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors, according to research being presented at the 2018 American Society for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.1

About half of resected NSCLCs recur, often at distant sites. The TRACERx study ( Identifier: NCT01888601) was developed to track the evolution of lung cancer from diagnosis through treatment; for this analysis, researchers evaluated CTCs from patients who underwent surgery for NSCLC to determine any relationship between CTCs, primary tumors, and metastatic relapse.

At surgery, blood samples were taken from 163 patients; whole genome sequencing and whole exome signaling were performed on detected CTCs. All sequenced samples had at least 5 CTCs.

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Consistent with previous research, pulmonary vein CTCs detected by the CellSearch platform were associated with poor prognosis. Among 100 CTCs obtained from 12 patients, heterogeneous copy number alternations were found, sometimes within particular patients.

Three types of pulmonary vein CTCs were noted: Type 1, where copy number alternations were shared between CTCs and primary tumors, 2, where copy alternations were not shared with tumors, and 3, where no copy number changes were observed. Whole exome sequencing revealed common genetic changes found in both CTCs and primary tumors and common genetic changes found only in CTCs.

The authors concluded that “single CTC analysis provides an additional layer of complexity with a valuable new perspective on tumour heterogeneity and early dissemination in NSCLC.”

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2018 meeting by visiting the conference page.


  1. Chemi F, Gulati S, Rothwell DG, et al. Single-cell molecular profiling of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) within the TRACERx study reveals heterogeneous patterns in early non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Oral presentation at: 2018 American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting; April 14-18; Chicago, Illinois.