Circulating tumor cell counts are powerful prognostic factors for cancer patients. Recent research has found that they can be quite heterogeneous – similar to the cells of the tumor they shed from. Novel tools that analyze the different phenotypes can reveal their full potential as biomarkers in oncology clinical trials.
Circulating tumor cells are shed from solid tumors and released into the bloodstream. Traveling through the body, they can develop into metastases. Their presence in the blood may, therefore, provide an essential prognostic indicator in cancer diagnostics.
Current diagnostic methods determine tumor cell counts per unit of volume. Below a specific threshold value, the patient is considered to have a good prognosis.
Along the same line, these tumor cells are used as biomarkers in oncology clinical studies: If the new treatment is effective, circulating tumor cell counts are expected to decrease.
Tissue or liquid biopsy?
Jesus Garcia, Scientific Liaison, Precision for Medicine
Circulating tumor cells are isolated from liquid biopsy samples – typically blood samples.
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