It isn’t here yet, but it very much is here! What am I talking about? Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are going to become a clear winner for us as the concept of using them finds its way into commercialization.

Metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) is difficult to evaluate using our less than stellar conventional assessments. Poor evaluative measures only means we end up with poor therapeutic decision-making.

The presence of CTCs in the peripheral circulation appears to be common in mCRPC. There have been multiple studies that show that counting these cells in men with mCRPC is relevant to predicting survival, therapy response and the biology of the disease. Furthermore, the kinetics of response of CTC levels to chemotherapy are rapid.

By performing regular measurements of CTCs in blood samples we can take advantage of these properties. When you add a count of the CTCs to the other traditional information we have from conventional assessments (imaging and serum PSA levels) we end up with a much more accurate picture of the prostate cancer.

Now we need to hope that some company will come along and submit an application to the FDA so we can finally release this great tool out of the lab and into the clinic.

Joel T Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.