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Strong evidence supports prognostic value of circulating tumor cells in breast cancer
Date:5/5/2011

point in a homogeneous population of metastatic breast cancer patients treated first line," Dr Bidard said.

The study results also add evidence to an ongoing discussion about how many CTCs per blood sample should be used to define patients at 'high risk' for a poor outcome.

"Generally, the more CTC you have, the worse it is," Dr Bidard said. "However, to define a 'high risk group', a threshold is needed. We report that the relative risk of the high-risk group vs low-risk group does not significantly change whether you define it as having a threshold of 1 CTC or 5 CTC. In both cases, their relative risks of shorter progression-free survival compared to the low-risk group are statistically the same."

"Our data suggest that using the lower threshold of 1 CTC is feasible and is not affected by any major loss of specificity of CTC detection. This supports the use of this low threshold in other studies conducted in non-metastatic breast cancer patients."

Commenting the study, which he was not involved in, Prof Fortunato Ciardiello, from Seconda Universit di Napoli, Naples, Italy, noted that circulating tumor cells have been suggested in recent times as a useful prognostic marker for several cancers, including breast cancer.

"This study is very relevant, since it gives a prospective evaluation of the role of CTC in a large series of metastatic breast cancer patients receiving first-line treatment. It represents a significant contribution confirming the prognostic role of CTC and gives important insights to establish a clinically useful threshold level for defining patients with high or low circulating tumor cells."


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Contact: Vanessa Pavinato
media@esmo.org
European Society for Medical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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