News / Health

Blood Test May Predict Outcome in Early Breast Cancer

Image shows circulating tumor cell cluster of patient in unrelated study (undated file image).Image shows circulating tumor cell cluster of patient in unrelated study (undated file image).
x
Image shows circulating tumor cell cluster of patient in unrelated study (undated file image).
Image shows circulating tumor cell cluster of patient in unrelated study (undated file image).
Jessica Berman
Researchers have discovered that a simple blood test could lead to better diagnosis and treatment for early-stage breast cancer -- and a better prognosis for patients' survival.

The test looks for the presence of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood of women at early-stage breast cancer, before the disease has metastasized -- or spread to other parts of the body.

According to a study published June 6 in The Lancet Oncology, researchers examined survival rates and disease progression in 302 women who, already diagnosed with breast cancer, showed no obvious signs that the cancer had spread beyond the breasts or adjacent lymph nodes.

Findings of the study indicate that risk of recurrence and death was much greater in patients with higher concentrations of CTCs.

"The old idea that we can look at the primary tumor and the lymph nodes and figure out which patients are going to [have their cancer] recur is probably outmoded," says Dr. Anthony Lucci, a surgical oncologist at the University of Texas who led the study.

According to Lucci and his colleagues, nearly one-quarter of the patients had at least one tumor cell circulating in their blood. During the five-year study, ten percent of those patients died and 15 percent relapsed. But among patients whose blood contained no CTCs, just 3 percent died and only 2 percent relapsed.

All 302 women received the blood test before their primary breast tumors were surgically removed, but in some cases, says Lucci, the surgery wasn't enough.

Further studies, he says, are needed to identifiy breast cancer patients who would benefit most from the CTC test, and to determine which treatments would be most effective.

"We need to test a variety of therapies to see which ones are best at getting rid of these cells," he says. "I don't think we yet know whether standard chemotherapy regimens remove these cells in the majority of patients."

The study builds on Lucci's previous work looking for circulating tumor cells in the blood of women with later-stage, metastatic breast cancer.

While Lucci says he does not yet use the CTC blood test in his practice, he believes the test will eventually help early-stage breast cancer patients avoid painful lymph-node removal by providing improved diagnosis and treatment information.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid