Cancer-therapies come in various forms, each with its own justification, as long as they are applied correctly and, above all, monitored. Most likely, everyone has heard of the most important ones:
- Radiation therapy
- Gene therapy
Which of these cancer-therapies are suitable for a patient depends on the pathological findings and the type of cancer. Unfortunately, whether the prescribed therapy is effective is often uncertain for both the doctor and the patient. This is where maintrac® comes into play, providing diagnostic clues after just a few weeks and saving valuable time. Otherwise, you might only find out in a few months after the next MRI or PET scan whether the treatment worked or if metastases have already developed.
How can maintrac® help identify appropriate cancer-therapies?
With maintrac®, an additional tool for regular monitoring of the cancer (usually every 3-6 months) is available. The number of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the patient’s blood is determined. This cell count is repeated at intervals of 3-6 months, the values obtained are compared, and the trend of cell count is interpreted. For example, if the cell count decreases during cancer therapy (e.g., chemotherapy or radiation therapy), this indicates the effectiveness of the treatment. However, if the cell count increases, an adjustment of the therapy would be advisable.
Chronicizing the Disease
The ultimate goal is, of course, to cure the disease, but how do we define “cure”? Is it freedom from pain, the removal of the tumor, the shrinkage of the tumor, being tumor-free for 2 years, 5 years, or even 10 years? We see the goal of cancer therapy more in terms of chronicizing the disease – aiming for a life with minimal symptoms and happiness. Here, maintrac® comes into play, starting with the identification and characterization of tumor cells. Patients often have tumor cells in their blood, even for years. A small fraction of them (stem cells) might be responsible for potential metastasis formation, but most of the CTCs are just “sleeping” tumor cells that lack the ability to settle and form new metastases.
To find the appropriate therapeutic approach, determining the treatment-relevant properties of the tumor cells before treatment can be very helpful. Quantifying and monitoring these cells can help monitor the success of the applied therapy, among other things.
Maintrac® measurements depend on the specific patient’s situation and should be individually planned. This way, the results of cell counting can be evaluated and interpreted for each patient case individually.
In the following pages, we explain how maintrac®, using the determined number of circulating tumor cells (CTCs), can serve as a meaningful tool for therapy decisions in:
- Adjuvant therapy
- Neoadjuvant therapy
- Metastatic situations
- Hormone therapy / maintenance therapy
- The “watch and wait” approach (prostate)
Decisions on intervention measures or further diagnostic steps should then be made in consultation with the treating therapist.