Prostate cancer treatment response can be foreseen using blood tests


During research, blood samples containing circulating tumour cells (CTC’s) were observed to pick out differences in chemotherapy response. If blood were looked at during all stages of medical therapy, researchers can record abnormalities during treatment response.

A study done in November of this year looked into the potential for CTC’s to be used in estimating or tracking patient reactions to a chemotherapy drug called docetaxel.

“The results showed that there is a strong inverse correlation between CTC parameters and survival“

Overall, over 200 blood samples were used in the examination using a blood filtration system.

The results showed that there is a strong inverse correlation between CTC parameters and survival.

According to the study, males had less chance of having a reaction to the docetaxel, therefore their prostate cancer had a higher chance of coming back or getting worse within a three-month period. They also had a lower chance of survival within a year and a half if over six CTCs were found in 7.5mL of blood prior to the initial dose of docetaxel. However, if they had fewer than six, the overall survival time was three years.

A research student at Barts Cancer Institute, Caitlin Davies, said “Our ability to collect and analyse CTCs before, during and after treatment meant that we could monitor changes in CTCs in response to treatment. We then looked for patterns in the data from men who responded or did not, or whose disease progressed sooner than others after treatment.”

She continued: “An increase in CTC numbers may indicate a lack of response to treatment. Furthermore, by monitoring the appearance of potentially drug-resistant CTCs, we can change treatment tactics early on and in a patient-personalised and timely manner.”

Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK, Matthew Hobbs, said “Although this research is still at an early stage, it helps us understand how and when liquid biopsies might be used to personalise treatment for men and give them the best chance of a good outcome. We’re proud to be funding several studies, including a large-scale clinical trial, to explore the potential of different types of liquid biopsy and the difference they could make to men’s lives.”

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