Conventional positive and negative selection-based circulating tumor cell (CTC) isolation methods might generally ignore metastasis-relevant CTCs that underwent epithelial-to- mesenchymal transition and suffer from a low CTC purity problem, respectively. To address these issues, we previously proposed a 2-step CTC isolation method integrating a negative selection CTC isolation and subsequent spheroid cell culture. In addition to its ability to isolate CTCs, more importantly, the spheroid cell culture used could serve as a cell culture model mimicking the process of new tumor tissue formation during cancer metastasis. Therefore, it is promising not only to selectively isolate metastasis-relevant CTCs but also to test the potential of cancer metastasis and thus the prognosis of disease. To explore these issues, experiments were performed. The key findings of this study demonstrated that the method was able to harvest both epithelial (E)- and mesenchymal (M)-type CTCs without selection bias. Moreover, both the M-type CTC count and the information obtained from the multidrug resistance-associated protein 2 (MRP2) and MRP5 gene expression analysis of the CTCs isolated via the 2-step CTC isolation method might be able to serve as prognostic factors for progression-free survival in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.