Dr. Minetta Liu on CTCs for Prognosis and Prediction

Minetta Liu, MD

Minetta Liu, MD, Breast Cancer Specialist, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, discusses the use of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) for prognosis and prediction in patients with breast cancer.

Currently, research is focused on using CTCs in patients with metastatic disease, with the goal being to have a better means of prognosis and prediction. A patient's prognosis relates to the biology of the tumor and is an evaluation of whether or not they will do well. Conversely, a prediction tries to inform a patient and physician about the efficacy of drugs. In different patients, CTCs can provide information in terms of a drug's efficacy or if the disease will progress without the need to change treatment. A third possibility is that the disease is so aggressive that a conventional treatment will not work.

Liu says that scans help follow patients, but are only conducted every 3-4 months, which is sometimes too infrequent. There is a need for an efficient way to determine whether the most appropriate treatment is being administered.

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