Researchers find circulating tumor cells in long-term cancer survivors
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have shown that some long-term breast-cancer survivors may have innate mechanisms to keep breast cancer at bay.
Their findings, published in the December issue of Clinical Cancer Research and available online, show that one-third of the longtime disease-free patients in the study had circulating tumor cells (CTCs). The presence of CTCs is often associated with a higher risk of recurrence if they are found soon after a mastectomy. The UT Southwestern discovery that CTCs can be found in patients up to 20 years after mastectomy is notable because these patients have a very low risk of recurrence. After 20 years, the risk of recurrence rises to 20 percent of survivors, and scientists are still unsure why.
"Dormancy is a mysterious phenomenon that occurs in certain types of cancer," said Dr. Jonathan Uhr, lead author of the study and professor in the Cancer Immunobiology Center and of microbiology and internal medicine. "The term refers to a recurrence of cancer long after the tumor has been removed."
Based on his previous data gathered from mouse models of cancer dormancy, Dr. Uhr and colleagues used a stringent and sensitive set of tests to identify CTCs in women who had mastectomies and had been clinically cancer-free for at least seven years. The investigators collected blood from 36 study participants. Of those, 13 breast-cancer survivors had CTCs, but the number of CTCs was low and remained low. Because CTCs are short-lived, they must be constantly replenished, possibly from many tiny tumors somewhere in the body.
Dr. Uhr said that there appears to be a precise balance between tumor cell replication and cell death. Those who stay healthy may have developed a way of keeping the size of the tumor cell population in check, making breast cancer a chronic illness in these patients, he said.
The next step, Dr. Uhr said, is to investigate the mechanisms for how the body and the cancer cells peacefully coexist. Such studies could reveal new ways to control cancer. "It is also important to determine what changes are responsible for relapse," he said. "If patients at risk for impending relapse can be identified, it may be possible to prevent recurrence with appropriate therapy."
Other UT Southwestern contributors to this study included Drs. Debasish Tripathy, Eugene Frenkel and Barbara Haley, all professors of internal medicine; Dr. James Huth, chairman of surgical oncology; Dr. Marilyn Leitch, professor of surgical oncology; Dr. David Euhus, associate professor of surgical oncology; Drs. Songdong Meng and Jianqiang Wang, postdoctoral researchers in the Cancer Immunobiology Center; and Nancy Lane, research scientist in the Cancer Immunobiology Center.
Megha Satyanarayana | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...