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International Journal of Hepatology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 684802, 16 pages
Review Article

Circulating Tumor Cells Measurements in Hepatocellular Carcinoma

INSERM U785, AP-HP Hôpital Paul Brousse, Centre Hépato-Biliaire, Université Paris-Sud. 14 avenue Paul Vaillant-Couturier, 94800 Villejuif, France

Received 12 January 2012; Accepted 24 March 2012

Academic Editor: Shigeru Marubashi

Copyright © 2012 Franck Chiappini. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Liver cancer is the fifth most common cancer in men and the seventh in women. During the past 20 years, the incidence of HCC has tripled while the 5-year survival rate has remained below 12%. The presence of circulating tumor cells (CTC) reflects the aggressiveness nature of a tumor. Many attempts have been made to develop assays that reliably detect and enumerate the CTC during the development of the HCC. In this case, the challenges are (1) there are few markers specific to the HCC (tumor cells versus nontumor cells) and (2) they can be used to quantify the number of CTC in the bloodstream. Another technical challenge consists of finding few CTC mixed with million leukocytes and billion erythrocytes. CTC detection and identification can be used to estimate prognosis and may serve as an early marker to assess antitumor activity of treatment. CTC can also be used to predict progression-free survival and overall survival. CTC are an interesting source of biological information in order to understand dissemination, drug resistance, and treatment-induced cell death. Our aim is to review and analyze the different new methods existing to detect, enumerate, and characterize the CTC in the peripheral circulation of patients with HCC.