Terminology

For their broad utilization, markers need to be implemented into current risk classification systems, such as the tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) classification. Although the decision upon implementation appears to be pending since 1990s, when DTC were mentioned for the first time in the TNM Supplement (33,34), a useful proposal for an appropriate TNM terminology has recently been made by the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) (35). The most recent TNM classification for breast cancer (36) does not qualify the presence of single cancer cells in peripheral blood or bone marrow as metastasis (stage M0), but it optionally reports the presence of such cells together with their detection method [e.g., M0(i+) or (mol+)].

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