The Prognostic Value of the Circulating Tumor Cell-Based Four mRNA Scoring System: A New Non-Invasive Setting for the Management of Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer (BC) is one of the most expensive lifetime cancers to treat because of the high recurrence rate, repeated surgeries, and long-term cystoscopy monitoring and treatment. The lack of an accurate classification system predicting the risk of recurrence or progression leads to the search for new biomarkers and strategies. Our pilot study aimed to identify a prognostic gene signature in circulating tumor cells (CTCs) isolated by ScreenCell devices from muscle invasive and non-muscle invasive BC patients. Through the PubMed database and Cancer Genome Atlas dataset, a panel of 15 genes modulated in BC with respect to normal tissues was selected. Their expression was evaluated in CTCs and thanks to the univariate and multivariate Cox regression analysis, EGFR, TRPM4, TWIST1, and ZEB1 were recognized as prognostic biomarkers. Thereafter, by using the risk score model, we demonstrated that this 4-gene signature significantly grouped patients into high- and low-risk in terms of recurrence free survival (HR = 2.704, 95% CI = 1.010−7.313, Log-rank p < 0.050). Overall, we identified a new prognostic signature that directly impacted the prediction of recurrence, improving the choice of the best treatment for BC patients.