Cancer cells have a terrifying-yet-ingenious way of passing through even the smallest blood vessels to spread throughout the human body, according to a new study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital. Figuring out how to prevent them from doing so may help slow down the spread of this killer disease.
It’s interesting but very, very preliminary.
They are circulating tumor cells xenografted into a fish embryo. We don’t really know much about ciruculating tumor cells (CTC’s) except that some early studies have shown that if they can be found, the risk of recurrence is higher. We haven’t yet found a way to impact those findings so the recommendation is to not even look for them. Finding them does not change therapy, and finding them does not guarantee relapse although the companies that make the assay try to sell it on “don’t you want to know?” In fact, no. I do not want to know a number that may scare people, may not lead to bad outcomes even though it sounds like it does, and has no bearing on actual treatment decisions.
That said, this begs the question of why these cells are capable of the behavior… How do they attain this ability?