DEC 08, 2022 3:12 PM PST

Circulating Tumor Cells Effectively Inform Treatment Decisions in Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer

WRITTEN BY: Zoe Michaud

Circulating tumor cells are tumor cells found circulating in the blood that come from a primary tumor. Circulating tumor cells have utility in clinical applications, including genomic analysis of cancer cells and monitoring the progression or recurrence of cancer. Since circulating tumor cells are usually collected through a blood sample, this method is relatively noninvasive compared with traditional tissue biopsies. 

Research presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (held December 6-10, 2022) suggests that a count of circulating tumor cells could help clinicians decide between chemotherapy and endocrine therapy as first-line treatment for certain types of breast cancer. 

Using circulating tumor cell (CTC) count to decide between first-line treatments provided an overall survival benefit for patients with metastatic, estrogen receptor (ER)-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer when compared to the physician’s choice of treatment. 

Study presenter François-Clément Bidard, MD, Ph.D., and professor of medical oncology at Institut Curie and Versailles Saint-Quentin University, said that “we hypothesized that the CTC count could drive and help standardize the difficult treatment decision between endocrine therapy, which appears more suited for patients with good prognosis, and chemotherapy, which may benefit patients with worse prognosis.”

Since endocrine therapy options typically have fewer side effects than chemotherapy, the consensus among experts is to exhaust all endocrine therapy options before switching to chemotherapy. Despite the consensus, treatment decisions vary widely between physicians and treatment centers. 

Bidard and the other researchers involved in the study designed a trial in which 755 patients were randomly assigned to either have their treatment decided by a clinician or by their CTC count. Primary results showed a survival benefit in patients whose treatment was escalated to chemotherapy based on their CTC count. Nearly five years after the trial began, study participants continue to have better long-term outcomes. 

“The STIC CTC trial is the first to establish the clinical utility of the CTC count as a biomarker in breast cancer care, indicating that a single assessment of the CTC count before the start of treatment can guide the treatment decision between chemotherapy and single agent endocrine therapy,” said Bidard. “Our study demonstrates that integrating prognostic biomarkers into the treatment algorithm can improve the management and outcomes of metastatic breast cancer patients.”

Sources: Nature, San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Zoe (she/her) is a science writer and a scientist working in genomics. She received her B.S. from the University of Connecticut with a focus in Evolutionary Biology. At Labroots, she focuses on writing scientific content related to clinical research and diagnostics.
You May Also Like
DEC 01, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
No more manual library preps!
No more manual library preps!
BioQuleTM NGS System - Say ‘goodbye’ to manual library prepping and ‘hello’ to generating librar ...
DEC 24, 2022
Coronavirus
As Restrictions Ease, COVID Surges in China
As Restrictions Ease, COVID Surges in China
After public protests, the Chinese government dramatically eased many restrictions related to COVID-19 earlier this mont ...
DEC 30, 2022
Coronavirus
Autopsies Reveal SARS-CoV-2 in the Human Brain & Other Tissues
Autopsies Reveal SARS-CoV-2 in the Human Brain & Other Tissues
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have sought to learn what types of cells SARS-CoV-2 infects. For m ...
JAN 06, 2023
Clinical & Molecular DX
Discovery of Compound that Inhibits COVID and Colds
Discovery of Compound that Inhibits COVID and Colds
Researchers at the University of British Colombia’s Life Sciences Institute have identified a compound that can po ...
JAN 10, 2023
Health & Medicine
Liver Let Die: Dying Liver Cells Disclose Cancer Diagnosis
Liver Let Die: Dying Liver Cells Disclose Cancer Diagnosis
The methylation patterns of DNA in the blood offer insight into the liver disease stage
JAN 17, 2023
Cardiology
More Walking Leads to Lower Cardiovascular Risk
More Walking Leads to Lower Cardiovascular Risk
For older adults, taking more steps every day decreases the risk of developing heart disease.
Loading Comments...