The number of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood is a "powerful predictor" to assist physicians assessing treatment effectiveness for patients with metastatic breast cancer, according to researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The findings from a large analysis using pooled data from international cancer centers will be presented during a poster session on Monday, June 6, at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.
"The current standard of care for monitoring patients with metastatic breast cancer involves the use of radiology studies such as CT scans, ultrasounds, and the like to determine whether or not patients are deriving benefit from their current therapies." says Minetta Liu, M.D., lead investigator of the new analysis and director of translational breast cancer research at Georgetown Lombardi. "These tests can be expensive and invasive, and can negatively impact a patient's quality of life."
The new analysis, Dr. Minetta Liu said, substantiates the utility of the CTC test, which counts the number of CTCs in the blood. CTC results at or above the threshold of five are reliably associated with clinical evidence of overall disease progression, strengthening considerations for a change in therapy with the goal of improving long-term patient outcomes.
Enumerating CTCs can be done with various technologies. For this analysis, researchers culled data from peer-reviewed published studies, all of which, utilized the FDA-approved CellSearchTM technology. Teams from institutions around the world contributed blinded data to create a dataset of 841 patients.
"Using a blood test to count CTCs in addition to our existing tools for disease monitoring might improve our ability to appropriately treat patients and maximize their quality of life," explained Liu.
Since August 2006, MPLN has offered the CellSearch CTC test to assist physicians with treatment selection and monitoring for patients with breast, colon and prostate cancer. For more information about CTCs and CellSearch, contact one of our technical service specialists at 800.932.2943.