Gwen’s best of SABCS 2011: Circulating Tumor Cells Can Predict Relapse in Non-metastatic Breast Cancer Patients

by Gwen on January 8, 2012

© 2012 Carl H. Stritter All rights reserved.

You can find an overview of the most important presentations of the 2011 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium here.

Poster #4-07-07 by A. Lucci and others.

For a while now, we have seen how a simple blood test that measures circulating tumor cells (CTCs) can predict response to treatments for metastatic breast cancer. Now we have evidence that they can predict which women would be more likely to relapse after their lumpectomy or mastectomy.

The folks at MD Anderson prospectively evaluated 290 women at the time of their breast surgery. 56% had small T1 tumors. Those with 2 or more CTCs had much greater odds of relapse (OR = 4.5; p = 0.002) and of death (OR = 4.5; p = 0.011) regardless of how small the tumor was at diagnosis.

I think many women newly diagnosed with breast cancer will want to see their CTC count – it will be yet one other piece of data to help them decide how aggressive to be with adjuvant and lifestyle therapies.

Of note, the authors of this study reported no financial conflicts and they did not report receiving funding from Veridex, the company that makes the circulating tumor testing platform used in the study.

Caveat: this is a relatively small study and many oncologists will want to wait for larger studies to confirm its findings before ordering this test on newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. In my experience, surgeons often adopt such tests earlier than oncologists.

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*Information on the Breast Equity blog is provided on an “as is” basis for general information only. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health professional.*

© 2012 Gwendolyn M Stritter, MD. All rights reserved.

© 2012, Gwen. All rights reserved.

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