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Tumor cells in blood may signal worse prognosis in head and neck cancer patients
Date:12/21/2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio A new study suggests that the presence of tumor cells in the circulating blood of patients with squamous cell cancer of the head and neck may predict disease recurrence and reduced survival. An increased number of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) also correlates with a worse outcome.

Those are the early findings from an ongoing, prospective study of the prognostic importance of CTCs by a team of researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

The study is published in the Dec. issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.

"These findings are extremely exciting, and they suggest that the presence of circulating tumor cells in the blood is correlated with reduced disease-free survival," says co-first author Dr. Kris Jatana, assistant professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at The Ohio State University and Nationwide Children's Hospital. "If these results are supported with continued prospective follow-up, CTCs would be used as a prognostic marker to help further individualize therapy."

Squamous cell carcinomas make up 95 percent of the 36,500 new cases of head and neck cancer expected to occur in the United States in 2010, and the estimated 7,900 deaths from the disease. Currently, no prognostic blood test exists for this malignancy.

With 5 billion red blood cells and 7 million white blood cells in just 20 drops of blood (that is, in one milliliter), counting the much-smaller number of CTCs that might be in a patient blood sample specimen is a challenge.

This team of researchers identified CTCs after first removing normal cells so that abnormal cellscancer cellsremained, a method called negative depletion. They eliminated all the red blood cells by rupturing them, then removed healthy white blood cells by labeling them with magnetic nanoparticles and used a strong m
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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Darrell.Ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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