Tests of a wearable cancer detection system are very positive. The system continuously collects CTCs directly from a peripheral vein. The system returns the remaining blood products after CTC enrichment, permitting testing of larger blood volumes than classic phlebotomy specimens over a prolonged period of time.
Result shows substantial increase in CTC capture, compared with serial blood draws. This technology could potentially be used to analyze large number of CTCs to facilitate translation of analytical information into future clinical decisions.
Tumors can release more than 1,000 cancer cells into the bloodstream in a single minute. Current methods of capturing cancer cells from blood rely on samples from the patient — usually no more than a tablespoon (7.5 mL tube) taken in a single draw. Some blood draws come back with no cancer cells, even in patients with advanced cancer, and a typical sample contains no more than 10 cancer cells.
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are shed from the primary cancer tumor and circulate through lymphatic channels and blood. CTCs were difficult to detect, enumerate, and characterize. Using modern technologies, several studies have now demonstrated that elevated levels of CTC isolated from a single blood draw are prognostic in patients with metastatic breast, colorectal, prostate, and lung cancers, as well as early-stage breast and prostate cancer.
CTC evaluation might be used for early detection of malignancy, if an test with sufficient sensitivity and specificity could be developed.