Background: Isolation of circulating tumor cells (CTC) holds the promise to improve response-prediction and personalization of cancer treatment. In this study, we test a filtration device for CTC isolation in patients with non-metastatic esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) within recent multimodal treatment protocols.
Methods: Peripheral blood specimens were drawn from EAC patients before and after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (FLOT)/chemoradiation (CROSS) as well as after surgery. Filtration using ScreenCell® devices captured CTC for cytologic analysis. Giemsa-stained specimens were evaluated by a cytopathologist; the cut-off was 1 CTC/specimen (6 mL). Immunohistochemistry with epithelial (pan-CK) and mesenchymal markers (vimentin) was performed.
Results: Morphologically diverse malignant CTCs were found in 12/20 patients in at least one blood specimen. CTCs were positive for both vimentin and pan-CK. More patients were CTC positive after neoadjuvant therapy (6/20 vs. 9/15) and CTCs per/ml increased in most of the CTC-positive patients. After surgery, 8/13 patients with available blood specimens were still CTC positive. In clinical follow-up, 5/9 patients who died were CTC-positive.
Conclusions: Detection of CTC by filtration within multimodal treatment protocols of non-metastatic EAC is feasible. The rate of CTC positive findings and the quantity of CTCs changes in the course of multimodal neoadjuvant chemoradiation/chemotherapy and surgery.