Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Can Circulating Tumor Cells Predict Late Recurrence in Breast Cancer?

By: Cordi Craig
Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The presence of circulating tumor cells (CTC) may help predict the risk of late recurrence in patients with hormone receptor–positive, HER2-negative breast cancer, reported a secondary analysis of a randomized phase III clinical trial in JAMA Oncology. According to the study findings, a positive CTC result was associated with a 13-fold higher risk of recurrence in this patient population.

“A single positive CTC assay result 5 years after diagnosis of hormone receptor–positive breast cancer provided independent prognostic information for late clinical recurrence, which provides proof of concept that liquid-based biomarkers may be used to risk stratify for late recurrence and guide therapy,” concluded Joseph Sparano, MD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, and colleagues.

Included in this analysis were 547 women with high-risk lymph node–positive and high-risk lymph node–negative breast cancers. Blood samples from all patients were taken for CTC assessment approximately 5 years after diagnosis.

Of the 353 patients diagnosed with hormone receptor–positive disease, 18 had positive CTC results, compared with 8 of the 193 patients with hormone receptor–negative disease (30.4% vs. 4.1%, respectively). Recurrence rates were significantly higher among patients in the CTC-positive group than in the CTC-negative group (21.4% vs. 2.0%). Differences in clinical recurrence were also observed between those with hormone receptor–positive and –negative disease: recurrence occurred in 23 patients with hormone receptor–positive disease compared with in 1 patient with hormone receptor–negative disease (6.5% vs. 0.5%).

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