May 20, 2011

Blood Test For Breast Cancer?

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center say the amount of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood is a "powerful predictor" and reliable for aiding physicians when they assess treatment benefit for patients with metastatic breast cancer.

"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," which Minetta Liu, M.D., lead investigator of the new analysis and director of translational breast cancer research at Georgetown Lombardi, was quoted as saying.  "These tests can be expensive and invasive, and can negatively impact a patient's quality of life."

Liu says the novel analysis substantiates the efficacy of the CTC test, which counts the number of CTCs in the blood.  CTC results that are at or above the verge of five are consistently connected with clinical and/or radiographic evidence of degenerative diseases, strengthening considerations for a change in therapy with the objective of moreover improving long-term patient outcomes.

Enumerating CTCs can be performed via an assortment of technologies.  For this analysis in particular, researchers gathered data from peer-reviewed published studies, all of which, by chance, made use of the FDA-approved CellSearchâ“ž¢ technology.  Numerous teams from institutions around the world supplied blinded data to ultimately produce a pooled dataset of 841 patients.  This vast sample size furthermore allowed Liu to verify findings from other studies that point to a CTC count of five or more is linked with disease progression.  In due course, the predictive worth of CTCs was not affected by treatment form (chemotherapy, endocrine therapy, biologic therapy), tumor type (hormone receptor positive/negative, HER2 positive/negative), or sites of disease involvement.

"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," concludes Liu.  "When a patient with metastatic breast cancer feels well and looks well, has had normal recent scans and CTC results that are consistently less than five, we feel more confident in her current treatment plan and may delay repeat imaging studies in favor of the less-invasive CTC blood test."

SOURCE: American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, June 6, 2011