Initial breast cancer therapies aim at eliminating the main cancer burden by removal of the primary tumor. However, the most life-threatening aspect is not its growth but rather the capacity of the primary tumor to release cells into the blood circulation, which then can settle in vital organs and grow into metastases, impairing the function of these organs and eventually leading to fatal outcomes. Even if the tumor has been completely removed, many patients will later develop metastases, sometimes even after decades.
The prerequisites for tumor cells to be able to form distant metastases are as follows:
If circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are detected, it proves that these cells have accomplished the first two steps of detaching from the tumor and surviving in the circulation.
Read the full article to learn how MMI's CellEctor enabled individual CTCs to be isolated and analyzed for their ability to form metastases and how surgery might contribute to activation of tumor cells to form CTCs.