Megakaryocytes and circulating tumour cells as a cancer prognostic marker


Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Western men and the second most frequent cause of cancer-related death. Most prostate cancer deaths are caused by metastases, which are thought to be seeded throughout the body by circulating tumour cells (CTCs). Large numbers of CTCs can be detected in the blood even prior to a metastatic tumour being clinically evident.

This new method of detecting circulating tumour cells can confirm their malignancy with a mesenchymal phenotype through performing multiple rounds of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) following immunofluorescence staining. It simultaneously identifies epithelial and mesenchymal cell features and genomic alterations, confirming the malignancy of the cells.

In addition, Queen Mary researchers demonstrated that an increase in circulating megakaryocytes in blood samples from prostate cancer patients were correlated with a good prognosis in progressive disease and that the combination of CTC and megakaryocyte count may effectively predict survival in advanced disease.

A patent has been granted in Europe and is pending in the US.



Dr Mark Gurden –



Prof Yung-Jie Lu, Professor of Molecular Oncology, Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London.