research: circulating tumor cells’ first large study confirms earlier findings

You may know that one of the ways that scientific research becomes more reliable is that a study can be duplicated with consistent results. Validation is a critical component of reliable science.

Circulating tumor cells (CTC) are another measure that some oncologists use to detect the success of treatment for metastatic breast cancer. The studies that indicated it could be useful, however, left enough doubt that some oncologists do not use the measure during MBC treatment.

This month at the IMPAKT (IMProving cAre and Knowledge through Translational Research) conference May 5 through 7, 2011, in Brussels, Belgium, reports results on the largest study of circulating tumor cells to date. The good news is that it confirms results from smaller previous studies. As is usually the case, further research needs to establish more information, specifically, a threshold for high risk; currently, the difference in CTC of 1 or 5 shows no statistical difference.

When I first started chemo in early 2009, following back surgery and radiation, I remember my oncologist telling me one of the tests they included in the batter of blood work was something that measured the circulating cells in the blood; all I remember was that she said my number was as good as it gets: zero. As I learn more and more, I understand the significance of some of the information that washed over me in the early onslaught. This is one bit of information that I hold onto like a little lucky charm. Silly, perhaps, but good news is always worth remembering when you need it. That’s what I’ll hang onto when I call back the folks tomorrow to set up my next PET scan.

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© 2004-2011 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.


One response to “research: circulating tumor cells’ first large study confirms earlier findings

  1. I always work myself into a state of high anxiety about the PET scans – so I go through this byzantine process in which I try to get the schedulers to not let me know when my appointment is, exactly, until a couple days before the scan. Even though I know APPROXIMATELY when it will be, it helps not to know the exact day. I still have to put up with the anxiety from the time I know until the time we get the results, though… no way to make it painless, unfortunately!

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