Current Status of Circulating Tumor Cells, Circulating Tumor DNA, and Exosomes in Breast Cancer Liquid Biopsies
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide. Although the five-, ten- and fifteen-year survival rates are good for breast cancer patients diagnosed with early-stage disease, some cancers recur many years after completion of primary therapy. Tumor heterogeneity and clonal evolution may lead to distant metastasis and therapy resistance, which are the main causes of breast cancer-associated deaths. In the clinic today, imaging techniques like mammography and tissue biopsies are used to diagnose breast cancer. Even though these methods are important in primary diagnosis, they have limitations when it comes to longitudinal monitoring of residual disease after treatment, disease progression, therapy responses, and disease recurrence. Over the last few years, there has been an increasing interest in the diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive potential of circulating cancer-derived material acquired through liquid biopsies in breast cancer. Thanks to the development of sensitive devices and platforms, a variety of tumor-derived material, including circulating cancer cells (CTCs), circulating DNA (ctDNA), and biomolecules encapsulated in extracellular vesicles, can now be extracted and analyzed from body fluids. Here we will review the most recent studies on breast cancer, demonstrating the clinical potential and utility of CTCs and ctDNA. We will also review literature illustrating the potential of circulating exosomal RNA and proteins as future biomarkers in breast cancer. Finally, we will discuss some of the advantages and limitations of liquid biopsies and the future perspectives of this field in breast cancer management.