Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Breast Cancer, JAMA, Radiation Therapy / 03.05.2018 Interview with: Chelain Goodman, MD PhD PGY-3, Radiation Oncology Northwestern University Chicago, IL 60611 What is the background for this study? Response: Circulating tumor cells are cancer cells that are shed from the primary tumor into the peripheral blood stream and are hypothesized to be one of the first steps in the initiation of metastatic progression. Prospective studies have demonstrated that approximately 15-25% of patients with early-stage breast cancer can be found to have at least one circulating tumor cell in a small sample of their blood. Currently, all patients with early-stage invasive breast cancer who undergo breast conserving surgery receive adjuvant radiation therapy. In these analyses, we wanted to determine whether presence of circulating tumor cells may be predictive of benefit of radiation therapy following surgery. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Lung Cancer / 03.10.2017 Interview with: Dr. Sunitha Nagrath, PhD Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering University of Michigan What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Lung cancer is leading cause of cancer-related mortality, and detecting it in earlier stages is crucial to improving outcomes for patients. The motivation for this study lies in understanding the phenotypic and genetic make-up of lung cancer during its early stages, using a blood sample (blood biopsy). We have done this by employing a microfluidic device to capture cancer cells circulating in the blood that is obtained from the peripheral veins and the pulmonary vein (a vein next to the tumor itself) from patients with early stage lung cancers. The idea behind using blood from the pulmonary vein was to obtain a richer yield of these circulating tumor cells, which are rare in the blood. Through this study, we found that the pulmonary vein does yield a much higher quantity of circulating tumor cells, and also often harbors these cells in large clusters. We further went on to study the significance of these clusters, and found that these clusters indicated aggressive traits such as resistance to treatment, and could also potentially suggest poorer patient outcomes at long term. (more…)