Detecting cancer’s spread before it happens: research indicates it may be possible
Cancer that spreads, or metastasizes, to another area of the body is not typically as treatable as the primary tumor from which it originated. Survival from metastatic disease is generally poor.
What if a daily or weekly blood sample could monitor each patient’s risk of metastasis, indicating the need for aggressive therapy before cancer spread is established? That’s the ultimate goal of studies published by researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
In the journal Cancer Research, authors including Maria E. Gaczynska, PhD, and Pawel Osmulski, PhD, report that blood-borne seeds of cancer, called circulating tumor cells (CTCs), have specific properties that can be measured. For example, CTCs are sticky and glom onto other cells called macrophages while hurtling through the bloodstream.