Scientists Establish New Blood Test to Better Evaluate Prostate Cancer
Wednesday 1st October
An international study led by researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research will pave the way for a test to be used to better tailor treatments and hopefully extend the survival of men with aggressive forms of metastatic prostate cancer.
The study, to be published tomorrow for Clinical Cancer Research ( available online Oct 1,) has found that analysis of Circulating Tumour Cells (CTC) can be utilised to study the prognosis of prostate cancer and is an independent indicator for overall survival of the disease.
Lead researcher Dr Johann de Bono at The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden Hospital says:
"CTC testing, used in conjunction with the existing prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, may allow doctors to more accurately evaluate the effect of treatment on a patient’s tumour."
"These studies are a very promising development, allowing cancer cells to be detected using a simple blood test and may eventually allow us to tailor cancer treatments to maximise the benefit for patients. Hopefully this will lead to improving the survival of patients with metastatic prostate cancer."
The PSA test has been widely adopted as the benchmark test for prostate cancer in the UK, but it is not always possible to identify a clear relationship between a raised PSA level and the status of the disease.
Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are cancer cells that have broken away from an existing tumour and have entered into the bloodstream. The presence of these cells in the blood provides valuable insights into disease progression.
This study has shown that the monitoring and detection of CTCs can provide valuable information on the patient’s prognosis. Further studies are taking place to evaluate if the CTC test may be used to allow doctors to make treatment decisions more quickly and more reliably for the benefit of patients.
The test has already been incorporated into several prostate cancer drug trials that are taking place at The Institute and The Royal Marsden.
The test has been cleared by the FDA in the United States to determine the prognosis of patients with metastatic breast, colorectal or prostate cancer.
The study was in partnership with the New-York based Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute and involved 231 patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Sixty-five clinical centres in Europe and the U.S. took part in the study.
The patients underwent monthly CTC monitoring to measure the level of circulating tumour cells in the blood. A count of more than 5 CTC per 7.5 ml of blood was seen as an indicator towards an “unfavourable” prognosis whereas a count of less than 5 CTC per 7.5ml was considered “favourable”. This was compared with the progression of the metastatic prostate cancer tumours.
Notes for editors
The Cellsearch™ Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) test is available for commercial use in the United States by Veridex, LLC, a Johnson & Johnson company.
This study was funded by Immunicon Corporation, Huntingdon, PA.
About prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the developed world. Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in the UK, with more than 35,000 new cases diagnosed annually. Around 10,000 men die of the disease every year, almost all of them from its castration-resistant form.
About The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden Hospital
The Institute of Cancer Research is Europe’s leading cancer research centre with expert scientists working on cutting edge research. It was founded in 1909 to carry out research into the causes of cancer and to develop new strategies for its prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. For more information visit ww.icr.ac.uk
The Institute is a charity that relies on voluntary income. The Institute is one of the world’s most cost-effective major cancer research organisations with over 95p in every £ of total income directly supporting research.
The Royal Marsden Hospital was the first hospital in the world dedicated to cancer treatment and research into the causes of cancer. A world leader in research, drug trialling and diagnostics, The Royal Marsden provides inpatient, day care and outpatient services for all areas of cancer treatment.
Today the hospital with its academic partner, The Institute of Cancer Research, forms the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe with more than 40,000 patients from the UK and abroad seen each year.