Promising Method For Early Diagnosis Of Cancer – Part 2 of 3
Scientists are wagering that this type of test, if successful, might also detect cancer early in its course, predict the odds for a recurrence, and assess a patient’s non-specialized prognosis. “There has been speculation that these stray cells are the ones that are responsible for the spreading of the disease,” noted one expert, Dr Massimo Cristofanilli, professor and chairman of medical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. “Simple enumeration tells us that this unwavering has a worse prognosis.
Now the question is, what other information we can gather, if we are able to capture these cells? For example, could we do gene study profiling and can we get information for the best treatment?” As it stands today, biopsy – an invasive and sometimes even hazardous procedure – is one of the few ways doctors can get key information about a cancer’s measure and characteristics. “Many people consider the new blood test to be a ‘liquid biopsy,’ so that eventually we can access cancer cells that are representative of the tumor without performing an invasive biopsy,” said Cristofanilli, who is not complex in developing the test.
Experts stressed that the new type of test, if it ever arises, may still be years away, and researchers still aren’t sure what these circulating tumor cells (CTCs) actually mean. “They may be able to find small amounts of cancer cells but we don’t know the significance of that. We may be detecting things that don’t have clinical significance,” explained Dr Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge.