Circulating Prostate Cancer Cells Detected by Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR): What Do They Mean?

Cancer control : journal of the Moffitt Cancer Center

PubMedID: 10761099

Moreno JG, Gomella LG. Circulating Prostate Cancer Cells Detected by Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR): What Do They Mean?. Cancer Control. 1998;5(6):507-512.
BACKGROUND: Molecular techniques have been developed recently to assess for circulating tumor cells. This "molecular staging" of prostate cancer uses the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to detect cells that contain PSA or PSMA in the bloodstream. Currently, the clinical application of this concept is controversial. METHODS: The authors discuss the current status of molecular biologic methods to detect circulating prostate cancer cells. They report on the limitations of the technology and the advances that will allow the quantification of these circulating cells. RESULTS: Studies generally indicate an increasing level of PSA RT-PCR positivity as disease advances. However, reports have been significantly diverse, and there is no clear explanation for this disparity. CONCLUSIONS: The determination of the "circulating prostate cancer cell load" by RT-PCR or other techniques may prove to be useful in the management of patients with prostate cancer, but questions remain to be answered before we can develop and assess new therapeutic strategies that will advance the treatment of prostate cancer before metastasis becomes evident. A better understanding of the biology of tumor cells present in the circulatory system is also needed.