The biology of a cancerous tumor works similarly to skin or hair. Just like the body sheds hair and skin cells, the tumor sheds cells throughout its lifespan. The bigger the tumor, the more cells it will shed.
These cells are called circulating tumor cells (CTCs), and they can be detected in the bloodstream. Therefore, when a blood sample is analyzed for cancer diagnosis, the test will take a measure of the presence of CTCs.
At RGCC, we use a liquid biopsy to measure the CTC count. A liquid biopsy is a non-invasive way to measure cancer in the body by measuring the number of CTCs in the bloodstream or in circulation.
The detection and monitoring of the CTC markers circulating in the blood are useful for screening, prognosis, and predicting a patient’s response to therapy. It is a valuable method to monitor the clinical course in patients with primary or metastatic cancer.
CTCs in the blood will correlate with the amount of cancer in a patient’s body. An increase in the CTC numbers is an indicator of cancer progression while decreasing CTC numbers indicate cancer containment or regression. A CTC count value is, therefore, a powerful and non-invasive tool to measure the state of cancer and whether the treatment is working or not.
In addition to the CTC count, RGCC’s CTC tests return a variety of valuable information that help follow up on how a patient’s body responds to cancer treatment.
We recommend patients retake their CTC count approximately every 3 months as long as their cancer is active. Once the cancer is in full remission and the first 2-3 follow-up tests are clear or show a stable status, the CTC tests can be taken every 6 months as part of their long-term monitoring protocol.
Let’s see how our CTC tests work.