Test may aid cancer treatment

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

An experimental test that snags lung cancer cells from a blood sample could give doctors real-time feedback on the most effective therapy, researchers reported Wednesday.

Changes in the number of circulating cancer cells correlated with the effectiveness of a patient’s treatment, according to the report in the New England Journal of Medicine. Currently, doctors take an educated guess at what treatment would work best, and then wait two to three months to perform a CT scan to see whether any tumors remain, researchers said. Doctors have many drugs and drug combinations to chose from.

The faster-acting blood test, licensed to CellPoint Diagnostics Inc. in Mountain View, Calif., is not yet available. More research is needed to determine whether enough cells can be detected to make the test effective and whether it will work for other types of tumors.