Circulating Tumor Cell Test An alternative perspective in monitoring cancer
By Shannon Sinsheimer, ND
Over the past few decades, developments in the field of oncology have al- lowed physicians to detect cancer earlier, intervene with more effective treat- ments sooner, and monitor cancer growth more efficiently. However, even with advancements in modern medicine, far too many individuals are still suf-
fering from cancer and living with fear of how this disease may ultimately af- fect them.
In 2004, a test was developed to moni- tor cancer growth that is proving to ul- timately provide a more realistic outcome of the disease, and more im- portantly, allow for more effective treatment choices. The test is called Circulating Tumor Cell Test (CTC). CTC tests for cancer cells in the peripheral circulation. The information CTC pro- vides has been useful in predicting more precisely the probability of metastasis from the original tumor site, mortality rates, and in directing treat- ment choices. As a naturopathic doc- tor, I have implemented CTC testing as part of my assessment of individuals with cancer to monitor their progress, and most importantly, monitor the ‘in- between’ time when the patient is tumor free but fear they are not cancer free.
The CTC test, I believe, is just begin- ning to be understood for its full po- tential in cancer treatment therapies. At the moment, there is heavy contro- versy about its role and validity in the mainstream medical community. A tumor will continually shed cells that end up in the body’s peripheral circula- tion. The tumor cell in circulation has a predicted life span of less than 24 hours. When the CTC test is per- formed, it is testing dead and live tumor cells, making it hard to differen- tiate between cells that can and can- not metastasize with success. The research that has been done, however, implicates that the total number of CTC found does indicate probability of metastasis and mortality, even though it is a measure of both live and dead tumor cells.
In my research, I found a European lab that has developed the most sensitive
and specific CTC test available and at 10% of the total cost of the test avail- able in the U.S. Using this particular CTC test, I have been able to monitor the decline of CTC as patients use vari- ous cancer treatments. I use the test clinically as a method to monitor total treatment effectiveness and to alter the dosage of IV Vitamin C infusions, which I use routinely for patients with cancer. CTC can be used while a pa- tient is undergoing chemotherapy, pre and post-op with tumor removal, and as a method of predicting the potential for metastasis after chemo, radiation, and surgery are completed.
Although there is controversy regard- ing the CTC test, overall I have found it immensely effective to use with pa- tients who have finished their recom- mended course of conventional treatments and are looking for alterna- tive support. During this time, I work on optimizing the immune system, and as part of that process I monitor the patient’s progress with a CTC test every three months. If the values in- crease, there are options such as in- creasing the dosage and frequency of IV Vitamin C treatments, increasing supplementation, altering diet, and scheduling a follow-up consultation with their oncologist for further assess- ment.
The CTC test has begun to fill a current clinical gap that exists from when treatment is complete to when a new tumor becomes visible by diagnostic imaging. Patients with cancer are closely monitored by their oncologists and internists with scans and other blood tests. However, most of these tests are only positive when a tumor has grown to a visually detectable size and at the point the body is no longer as able to fight its growth. The CTC test serves to detect increases in circu- lating tumor cells before an imaging scan can detect a metastasis. It can find tumors faster, so to speak, and a smaller tumor is an easier tumor to treat.
The use and sensitivity of the CTC test will change, and ultimately evolve for the better over time. Currently, it is not widely used and that’s because its clini- cal implications are still heavily de- bated. However, this test does have a place in an alternative adjunctive treat- ment approach, and that is to more closely monitor treatment progress and attempt to predict the potential for tumor growth more accurately.
Shannon Sinsheimer can be reached at 760-568-2598.
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4
| Page 5
| Page 6
| Page 7
| Page 8
| Page 9
| Page 10
| Page 11
| Page 12
| Page 13
| Page 14
| Page 15
| Page 16