A new blood test at the University of Kansas Cancer Center can not only detect cancer but is helping determine the effectiveness of its treatment.
KANSAS CITY, Kansas - The University of Kansas Cancer Center is very excited about
what their new machine can do.
"We are the only ones who have this instrument in the state of
Kansas," said Sitta Sittamplam, Professor of Pharmacology,
Toxicology and Therapeutics at the University of Kansas Cancer
He’s talking about a modest looking machine that could
make a big difference in the lives of cancer patients. It detects
rare cells in the blood that have been found to indicate the growth
"There are only a few cells that circulate very, very early on
in the development of cancer, so if you can detect them they will
be very useful in starting an early therapy," he said.
Among the millions of cells in a typical blood sample this
machine can find those put out by a spreading cancer.
"They can be used as a diagnostic to detect cancer very early
even before an X-ray or CT can detect them," Sittamplam said.
It's almost literally finding a needle in a haystack.
"Maybe one to ten, one to twenty cells among millions so this
technology can actually detect very few cells, up to one cell
even," he said.
And that kind of sensitivity means not only early detection but
more effective treatment.
"We have used it to actually test new drugs in the
pharmaceutical industry as to how patients are responding,"
The machine and the test are expensive, but within a few years
should be more widely available.
"It's a very effective...very state of the art technology," he
The indicator cells also appear as a cancer is relapsing, when
the cells are migrating from the original site to other organs.
The FDA has approved the test for colorectal, prostate and
breast cancer, making it another weapon in the war on cancer.