Circulating Tumor Cells in Breast Cancer May Predict Risk of Late Recurrence

by Elyse Watkins, DHSc, PA-C, DFAAPA

A recent study in JAMA Oncology1suggests that the presence of circulating tumor cells in the blood of estrogen receptor-positive, HER-2 negative and node negative breast cancer patients may be predictive of late recurrence. Estrogen-receptor positive, HER-2 negative is the most common breast cancer subtype. A blood test that measures circulating tumor cells may offer additional information for healthcare providers who treat breast cancer patients so that long-term treatment decisions can be more precise.

We are seeing many breakthroughs in terms of prognostic indicators for breast cancer recurrence and treatment strategies for patients with breast cancer. For example, the TAILORx trial from 2018 showed that women with early stage estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer who are intermediate on the Oncotype DX®Breast Recurrence Score can safely forego neoadjuvant chemotherapy.2In the past, women with an intermediate score were generally given neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Breast cancer research is rich with new information that offers better prognosticators and treatment strategies for women with breast cancer.

1.Sparano J et al. Association of circulating tumor cells with late recurrence of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer: A secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Oncol 2018 Dec 1; 4:1700.

2. Sparano J et al. Adjuvant chemotherapy guided by a 21-gene expression assay in breast cancer. N Engl J Med2018; 379:111-121. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1804710

You can see Elyse Watkins, DHSc, PA-C, DFAAPA speak at the GAPA 2019 Summer Conference in Hilton Head Island, SC.


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