It detects cancer cells and their number and even identifies the type at a very early stage than that of available imaging systems such as PET, MRI, CT or US. Moreover, it is as simple as a blood test. Analysis of Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC) in blood (so-called liquid biopsy) is an effective, minimally invasive option for tracking cancers in the body. CTC method, which brings a totally different perspective to cancer screening, is put into service in Turkey for the first time by Anadolu Medical Center.
Prof. Hüseyin Baloğlu, MD, a pathologist from Anadolu Medical Center, describes this groundbreaking new technology in cancer, and discusses the positive contributions to early diagnosis prognosis and personalized treatment process. He states, “As known, in conventional cancer staging, parameters such as whether a tumor has reached a specific size, or it has spread to regional lymph nodes or distant organs, have been used. But thanks to the novel robust technology enabled CTC, from now on, it’s possible to detect tumor when it’s very small in the blood”.
Scientific studies have shown that cancer cells pass to bloodstream, even when the tumor is very small in size. Novel technologies can isolate these cells from circulating blood and identify them. Any change in the number of tumor cells in the bloodstream provides physicians with information about the prognosis of the disease during very early stages of therapy. Furthermore, mutation analyses as the basis of target-oriented treatment can be performed in the CTC caught. In addition, CTC provides more reliable options and favorable conditions that can help for cases with difficult to access tumors or tumors requiring morbid/mortal interventions for sampling.
It is fast and easy
Expressing that the new technology can be applied to any patient without problem in giving blood, Prof. Hüseyin Baloğlu states “A tube of blood taken from a patient is examined by using a special device. The new method catches cancerous cells, provides enumeration and identification of cancer. All of these steps can be completed in a day, totally”.
It is possible to establish a definite diagnosis of cancer
Prof. Dr. Baloğlu emphasizes that the new method allows precise early detection of cancer cells, which is very important for treatment, and states “With this sophisticated technology, we are able to diagnose cancer at the earliest stage. Another important feature of the method is that it can identify cancerous tumors in the blood by their type. It can easily distinguish even lung, breast, colon and prostate tumors, which have many molecular characteristics”.
It provides personalized treatment
This novel method, implemented for the first time in Turkey, also enables patient follow-up under therapy. In the former system, favorable/unfavorable or neutral response to treatment of cancerous tumors could be determined approximately at the end of 3 months. Thanks to the new technology, the change in number of tumor cells in the blood stream before and after treatment can be determined as early as in the first 2 weeks. Prof. Baloğlu states that this new device at Anadolu Medical Center is also the most advanced system to follow cancer treatment, and notes that this technology may modify the means of treatment and will lead to very personalized cancer treatment.
It improves knowledge about disease course
A crucial step in evaluating a cancer patient relies on establishing an accurate prognosis, which provides a prediction of the probable course and outcome of the disease. With a correct prognosis in hand, physicians can then predict the most disease outcome for a person’s cancer. It enables oncologists regularly and quickly to figure out whether a treatment is working and, if it is, to continue monitoring the treatment in case the cancer develops resistance.
It overcomes standard evaluating methods
The standard methods of assessing a treatment’s effectiveness have serious drawbacks versus the performance of CTC. Traditionally, the response to treatment is often determined by measuring changes in tumor size with CT and MRI scans. But it can take weeks or months before a tumor looks smaller/bigger on a scan, in part because a scan shows not just the cancer but also connective tissue, immune system cells and other local elements. The other way to know is with biopsies but physicians cannot do a weekly biopsy to see how things are going. They can do a simple blood test whenever needed. The CTC tests allow frequent monitoring of tumors as they spread and mutate or develop resistance to treatment.
It predicts risk of recurrences (relapse)
By detecting and monitoring CTC levels in the bloodstream, physicians can gain important information about a patient’s prognosis, which can have a potential to be used to guide treatment decisions. Greater numbers of CTC in the blood are linked with increased risk of metastasis as well as poorer prognosis and survival.
Circulating tumor cells are the metastatic seeds which can spread the cancer to other parts of the body. CTC evaluation is more accurate than standard biomarkers at predicting the prognoses of metastatic cancer patients. Moreover, the conventional approach to cancer has been to focus on the primary tumor, based treatment decisions on the specific characteristics of the primary cancer cells. It could fail to destroy the circulating tumor cells if CTC are genetically different from the cancer cells in the primary tumor.
This technology, acknowledged by The Scientist Magazine in Top 10 Innovations of 2015, is available at Anadolu Medical Center. “With CTC technology, which we have recently added to our hi-end infrastructure, we continue to support the success of our physicians in providing cancer patients with an alternative means of comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. Since our establishment in 2005, we have worked to provide healthcare services at international standards. “