Serial Analysis of Circulating Tumor Cells in Metastatic Breast Cancer Receiving First-Line Chemotherapy

Mark Jesus M. Magbanua, Laura H. Hendrix, Terry Hyslop, William T. Barry, Eric P. Winer, Clifford Hudis, Deborah Toppmeyer, Lisa Anne Carey, Ann H. Partridge, Jean Yves Pierga, Tanja Fehm, José Vidal-Martínez, Dimitrios Mavroudis, Jose A. Garcia-Saenz, Justin Stebbing, Paola Gazzaniga, Luis Manso, Rita Zamarchi, María Luisa Antelo, Leticia De Mattos-ArrudaDaniele Generali, Carlos Caldas, Elisabetta Munzone, Luc Dirix, Amy L. Delson, Harold J. Burstein, Misbah Qadir, Cynthia Ma, Janet H. Scott, François Clément Bidard, John W. Park, Hope S. Rugo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: We examined the prognostic significance of circulating tumor cell (CTC) dynamics during treatment in metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients receiving first-line chemotherapy. Methods: Serial CTC data from 469 patients (2202 samples) were used to build a novel latent mixture model to identify groups with similar CTC trajectory (tCTC) patterns during the course of treatment. Cox regression was used to estimate hazard ratios for progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in groups based on baseline CTCs, combined CTC status at baseline to the end of cycle 1, and tCTC. Akaike information criterion was used to select the model that best predicted PFS and OS. Results: Latent mixture modeling revealed 4 distinct tCTC patterns: undetectable CTCs (56.9%), low (23.7%), intermediate (14.5%), or high (4.9%). Patients with low, intermediate, and high tCTC patterns had statistically significant inferior PFS and OS compared with those with undetectable CTCs (P <. 001). Akaike Information Criterion indicated that the tCTC model best predicted PFS and OS compared with baseline CTCs and combined CTC status at baseline to the end of cycle 1 models. Validation studies in an independent cohort of 1856 MBC patients confirmed these findings. Further validation using only a single pretreatment CTC measurement confirmed prognostic performance of the tCTC model. Conclusions: We identified 4 novel prognostic groups in MBC based on similarities in tCTC patterns during chemotherapy. Prognostic groups included patients with very poor outcome (intermediate + high CTCs, 19.4%) who could benefit from more effective treatment. Our novel prognostic classification approach may be used for fine-tuning of CTC-based risk stratification strategies to guide future prospective clinical trials in MBC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-452
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


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