Cancer: Predicting tumor spread by sorting traveling cancer cells

The chances of surviving cancer diminish fast once cells break away from the primary tumor and course through the bloodstream to establish secondary tumors in other parts of the body. Now, researchers have developed a device that can sort the different types of circulating tumor cells and better predict cancer spread.

Cancer researchers and doctors are interested in methods that analyze circulating tumor cells because they offer ways to determine how aggressive tumors are without having to do biopsies.

Devices that capture circulating tumor cells from the blood of cancer patients are currently in use, but they cannot differentiate among the different types of tumor cells, they simply count them all. They do give an indication of tumor aggressiveness – the more circulating tumor cells there are, the higher the chance that the cancer is spreading. But they cannot say, for example, whether a sample contains a high or low proportion of more aggressive tumor cells.

Prostate cancer patients showed marked differences in circulating tumor cells

In their study, Prof. Kelley and her team, together with collaborators at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, also in Toronto, and the London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ontario, tested the new device on samples collected from 20 patients with localized prostate cancer.

“As a result, we are excited to pursue new research opportunities in an effort to more accurately and less invasively diagnose and improve the health outcomes for cancer patients,” she adds.

Source by : Medical News Today

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