-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- There is a great deal of
genetic diversity in cells shed by cancerous tumors into the
bloodstream, a new study has found.
Some cells have genes that enable them to lodge themselves in
new locations, helping the cancer spread between organs, while
other cells have different patterns of gene expression that might
make them more benign or less likely to survive in other locations
in the body.
Some circulating tumor cells even express genes that could
predict their response to a specific cancer treatment, the
"Within a single blood draw from a single patient, we're seeing [varied] populations of circulating tumor cells," senior study author Dr. Stefanie Jeffrey, chief of surgical oncology research at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said in a university news release.
The researchers said their findings highlight how multiple types
of treatment may be needed to cure what appears to be a single kind
of cancer and suggest that the current cell-line models of human
cancers need to be improved upon.
The study, which used blood samples from breast cancer patients,
is the first to look at circulating tumor cells one by one instead
of taking the average of many of the cells. It also is the first to
show the extent of genetic differences between circulating tumor
cells, the researchers said.
Scientists have long known that circulating tumor cells move
through the bloodstreams of cancer patients. Over the past five
years, though, many cancer researchers have begun to think the
cells could be the key to tracking tumors noninvasively.
The study appears online Tuesday in the journal
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about
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