A concept for the standardized detection of disseminated tumor cells in bone marrow from patients with primary breast cancer and its clinical implementation



Numerous single-institutional studies and a large pooled analysis have demonstrated that the presence of disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) in the bone marrow (BM) from patients with primary, nonmetastatic breast cancer (Stages I-III) is associated with impaired prognosis. To date, sampling of BM and assessment of DTCs is not considered a routine procedure in the clinical management of breast cancer patients; however, emerging data suggest a future role for risk stratification and monitoring of therapeutic efficacy. Because these clinical options need to be evaluated in trials to verify the principle of this concept in the clinical setting, agreement on the standardized detection of DTCs is necessary. Consequently, the German, Austrian, and Swiss Societies for Senology recently formed a panel 1) to review and discuss the existing methodologies, 2) to find a consensus for a standardized detection of DTCs, and 3) to explore the options for its clinical implementation. Cancer 2006. © 2006 American Cancer Society.