A headlight on liquid biopsies: a challenging tool for breast cancer management

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Breast cancer is the most frequent carcinoma and second most common cause of cancer-related mortality in postmenopausal women. The acquisition of somatic mutations represents the main mechanism through which cancer cells overcome physiological cellular signaling pathways (e.g., PI3K/Akt/mTOR, PTEN, TP53). To date, diagnosis and metastasis monitoring is mainly carried out through tissue biopsy and/or re-biopsy, a very invasive procedure limited only to certain locations and not always feasible in clinical practice. In order to improve disease monitoring over time and to avoid painful procedure such as tissue biopsy, liquid biopsy may represent a new precious tool. Indeed, it represents a basin of “new generation” biomarkers that are spread into the bloodstream from both primary and metastatic sites. Moreover, elevated concentrations of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) as well as circulating tumor cells (CTCs) have been found in blood plasma of patients with various tumor types. Nowadays, several new approaches have been introduced for the detection and characterization of CTCs and ctDNA, allowing a real-time monitoring of tumor evolution. This review is focused on the clinical relevance of liquid biopsy in breast cancer and will provide an update concerning CTCs and ctDNA utility as a tool for breast cancer patient monitoring during the course of disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalTumor Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cancer Research

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