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Review Article

Circulating Tumor Cells and Cell-free Nucleic Acids as Biomarkers in Colorectal Cancer

[ Vol. 29 , Issue. 10 ]


Ghazaleh Pourali, Ghazaleh Khalili-Tanha, Elham Nazari, Mina Maftooh, Mohammadreza Nassiri, Seyed Mahdi Hassanian, Majid Ghayour Mobarhan, Majid Khazaei*, Gordon Ferns and Amir Avan*   Pages 748 - 765 ( 18 )


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is currently the second most prevalent cancer diagnosed in women and the third most common kind of cancer in men. Despite tremendous efforts and advancements in diagnostic approaches and treatment options, the mortality rate of CRC accounts for around one million each year globally. The five-year survival rate of CRC is reported to be approximately 14 percent for patients diagnosed at an advanced stage. Due to its significant associated mortality and morbidity, diagnostic tools to identify the disease at its early stages are urgently required. Early diagnosis may lead to better outcomes. The gold standard approach for CRC diagnosis is colonoscopy with biopsy. However, it is an invasive process with a risk of complications and discomfort for the patient. Moreover, it is usually performed in symptomatic or high-risk individuals and therefore, asymptomatic patients might be missed. Thus, alternative non-invasive diagnostic techniques are required to improve CRC outcomes. The new era of personalized medicine is identifying novel biomarkers associated with overall survival and clinical outcomes. Recently, liquid biopsy, a minimally invasive analysis of body fluid biomarkers, has gained attention for diagnosis, evaluation of prognosis, and follow-up of patients with CRC. Several previous studies have demonstrated that this novel approach allows for better understanding of CRC tumor biology and leads to an improvement in clinical outcomes. Here, we explain the enrichment and detection methods of circulating biomarkers, including CTCs, ctDNA, miRNA, lncRNA, and circRNA. Furthermore, we provide an overview on their clinical potential as diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive biomarkers for CRC.


Circulating biomarkers, colorectal cancer, early detection, clinical management, diagnostic, predictive, prognosis, epigenetic, CTC, ctDNA.


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