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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid