Circulating tumor cells associated with relapse in late-stage melanoma patients

November 7, 2017, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

A study revealing a connection between circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and relapse in stage IV melanoma patients points to liquid biopsy as a potential predictor of patients at high risk for disease progression. CTCs, tumor cells shed into the bloodstream or lymphatic system, can lead to additional tumor growth and/or metastasis to distant sites.

Findings from the study, led by Anthony Lucci, M.D., professor of Breast Surgical Oncology and Surgical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Center, will be presented at the Nov. 7 annual meeting of the Western Surgical Association.

Based on earlier studies in which Lucci found significant levels of CTCS in , Lucci theorized that CTCs may also be present in patients.

"Optimal management of stage IV melanoma patients remains a challenge, since in spite of promising emerging therapies, many patients develop resistance," said Lucci. "This study, designed to determine if CTCs are associated with relapse, detected CTCs in approximately 40 percent of advanced stage melanoma patients."

The team conducted a CTC assessment through blood drawn from 93 melanoma patients at the time of stage IV diagnosis. Median follow-up was 17 months and average patient age was 55 years. CTCs were detected in 42 percent of patients at the time of blood draw. Fifty-seven of the 93 patients (61 percent) experienced disease relapse. The study showed that, within six months, 51 percent of patients who had tested positive for CTCs experienced relapse, while disease recurred in 15 percent of patients without CTCs. Over the five-year follow-up period, 82 percent of those patients who had tested positive for CTCs experienced relapse, while 46 percent of those who did not have CTCs had disease recurrence.

"Based on our findings, it is clear that stage IV melanoma patients with CTCs have a significantly higher chance of relapsing or progressing as compared to those without CTCs," said Lucci. "Hopefully, in the future this information could be used to guide treatment, or select patients for treatment - or maybe stop a treatment and switch to another - when it appears it is not working."

Lucci previously led the first study of CTCs in early-stage breast cancer, which followed 302 non-metastatic . Lucci's team discovered that CTCs were present in 24 percent of stage 1-3 breast cancer , demonstrating CTCs as an independent predictor of worse, disease free, and overall survival. The results were published in Lancet Oncology in 2012.

Explore further: Blood test could lead to improved diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer

Related Stories

Blood test could lead to improved diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer

June 5, 2012
Scientists have discovered that a simple blood test could lead to better diagnosis and treatment for early-stage breast cancer patients, according to an Article published Online First in The Lancet Oncology.

Tumor cells in the blood may indicate poor prognosis in early breast cancer

May 15, 2014
Tumor cells in bone marrow of early breast cancer patients predict a higher risk of relapse as well as poorer survival, but bone marrow biopsy is an invasive and painful procedure. Now, it may be possible to identify tumor ...

FDG PET shows tumor DNA levels in blood are linked to NSCLC aggressiveness

November 6, 2017
Italian researches have demonstrated a better way of determining the aggressiveness of tumors in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In a study presented in the featured clinical investigation article ...

Arteries better than veins for liquid biopsy

September 24, 2015
As the field of liquid biopsies for tracking disease progression and therapeutic response heats up, many doctors are looking for ways to apply this approach to their patients. Currently, assays for circulating tumor cells ...

Serial analysis of CTCs may provide biomarker predictive of NSCLC response to crizotinib

May 1, 2017
Among patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) fueled by ALK gene alterations who were being treated with crizotinib (Xalkori), a decrease in the number of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) harboring increased copies ...

Recommended for you

Fusion hybrids: A newly discovered population of tumor cells

September 24, 2018
In a recent study published in Science Advances, Charles E. Gast and co-workers detail the spontaneous process of cancer cell fusion with white blood cells to produce heterogenous hybrid clones in multiple biological systems, ...

Cancer cells evade immunotherapy by hiding telltale marker, suggesting how to stop relapse

September 24, 2018
Harnessing the immune system to treat cancer shows great promise in some patients, but for many, the response does not last long-term. In an effort to find out why, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center scientists are using ...

In zebrafish, a way to find new cancer therapies, targeting tumor modulators

September 21, 2018
The lab of Leonard Zon, MD, at Boston Children's Hospital has long been interested in making blood stem cells in quantity for therapeutic purposes. Looking for a way to test for their presence in zebrafish, their go-to research ...

What can salad dressing tell us about cancer? Think oil and vinegar

September 20, 2018
Researchers led by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists have identified another way the process that causes oil to form droplets in water may contribute to solid tumors, such as prostate and breast cancer. The ...

Novel biomarker found in ovarian cancer patients can predict response to therapy

September 20, 2018
Despite months of aggressive treatment involving surgery and chemotherapy, about 85 percent of women with high-grade wide-spread ovarian cancer will have a recurrence of their disease. This leads to further treatment, but ...

Testing fluorescent tracers used to help surgeons determine edges of breast cancer tumors

September 20, 2018
A team of researchers with members from institutions in The Netherlands and China has conducted a test of fluorescent tracers meant to aid surgeons performing tumor removal in breast cancer patients. In their paper published ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.