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Circulating tumor cells not linked to survival in newly diagnosed inflammatory breast cancer
Date:12/9/2011

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- The presence of circulating tumor cells in the blood appears to have no relationship to survival in women who have just been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, according to new research from Fox Chase Cancer Center. However, the research shows that these stray tumor cells may signal that the disease has spread to other parts of the body, even before imaging reveals any metastases. The results will be presented on Friday, December 9 at the 2011 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

If a woman is diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, a particularly fast-growing form of the disease, doctors should consider close imaging to monitor and possibly continue aggressive treatment if she also has circulating tumor cells (CTCs), regardless of what imaging shows, recommends study author Massimo Cristofanilli, M.D., F.A.C.P., chair of the department of medical oncology at Fox Chase. "You should be carful before stopping treatment in someone who has evidence of circulating cells, particularly when dealing with a disease like inflammatory breast cancer, which can progress rapidly."

Previous research by Cristofanilli and his colleagues found that the number of stray cancer cells circulating in the blood is the best predictor of both how long a woman with metastatic breast cancer will live and the amount of time until her cancer progresses. But the researchers have also found that the presence or lack of CTCs has little to say about prognosis in women with metastatic inflammatory breast cancer, an aggressive disease with extremely poor outcomes in spite of multidisciplinary modality treatment.

During the current study, Cristofanilli and his team reviewed the records of 84 women who had just learned they have inflammatory breast cancer, either in stage III or stage IV. A total of 64 (76.2%) women had at least 1 CTC and 29 (34.5%) had at least 5. The researchers found that women with no CTCs had comparable
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Contact: Diana Quattrone
Diana.Quattrone@fccc.edu
215-728-7784
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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