San Antonio - Metastatic breast cancer patients whose blood contains circulating tumor cells (CTCs) before or after treatment with high-dose chemotherapy and blood stem cell transplant have shorter survival periods, according to a new study by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
The findings were presented today in a poster session at the 33rd Annual CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
In addition, patients with higher percentages of epithelial cells, or the presence of a specific cellular transition, had higher chances for relapse.
"Building on the information from this study, we eventually may be able to use these molecular markers to identify breast cancer patients with a high likelihood of developing metastasis or relapsing. This may allow physicians to design specific treatments to help patients achieve better outcomes," said James M. Reuben, Ph.D., professor in MD Anderson's Department of Hematopathology, and co-corresponding author of the study.
Stem cells have common receptor
High-dose chemotherapy followed by autologous hematopoietic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (ASCT) offers modest complete response rates for some patients with metastatic breast cancer. However, tumor cells that spread to the bone may be recruited and mobilized along with hematopoietic stem cells to increase a patient's chance of relapse.
"We hypothesized that since the breast tumor cells have the same CXRX4 receptor as hematopoietic stem cells, we might mobilize or recruit tumor cells by using a growth factor proven to mobilize blood stem cells," Reuben said.
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is recognized as an important part of metastasis. Epithelial cells line the organs and cavities of the body and usually are not mobile. Mesenchymal cells are mobile and can differentiate into many cell types, for example, to repair injury. EMT has bee
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University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center