Metastatic disease in colorectal cancer results from hematogenic dissemination of tumor cells. This dissemination can be explained by 2 concepts: (1) regional spread of tumor cells via portal venous drainage into the liver as the first site of metastasis and (2) early spread of tumor cells into central and peripheral venous blood as evidence of systemic hematogenic tumor cell dissemination.
Tumor cell detection in different blood compartments could help to understand the predominant pattern of hematogenic tumor cell dissemination in colorectal cancer.
Prospective consecutive series.
Patients and Methods
Mesenteric, central, and peripheral venous blood samples from 40 patients with colorectal cancer were examined by cytokeratin 20 reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction.
Main Outcome Measures
Sensitivity and specifity of cytokeratin 20 reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, and frequency of tumor cell detection in different blood compartments.
Tumor cells were found in mesenteric venous blood of 20 of 40 patients, central venous blood of 6 of 40 patients, and peripheral venous blood of 2 of 19 patients. The detection rate in mesenteric venous blood was significantly higher than that in central and peripheral venous blood (P<.001).
The significantly higher detection rate in mesenteric venous blood emphasizes the importance of the filter function of the liver for circulating tumor cells in portal venous blood. Tumor cell detection in central and peripheral venous blood, however, shows that this filtering process is limited and indicates early systemic hematogenic tumor cell dissemination in colorectal cancer.