Circulating tumor cells as a tool for assessing tumor heterogeneity
Tumor heterogeneity is the major cause of failure in cancer prognosis and prediction. Accurately detecting heterogeneity for the development of biomarkers and the detection of the clones resistant to therapy is one of the main goals of contemporary medicine. Metastases belong to the natural history of cancer. The present review gives an overview on the origin of tumor heterogeneity. Recent progress has made it possible to isolate and characterize circulating tumor cells (CTCs), which are the drivers of the disease between the primary sites and metastatic foci. The most recent methods for characterizing CTCs are summarized and we discuss the power of CTC profiling for analyzing tumor heterogeneity in early and advanced diseases.