Our understanding of how sarcomas spread (metastasise) through the body is poor. It is thought that sarcoma cells travel in the bloodstream from the tumour site to other sites in the body. They then leave the bloodstream to grow into new tumours called metastases. Sadly, many sarcoma patients go on to develop metastatic disease.
How will this project tackle this challenge?
Tumour cells in the bloodstream can be identified as circulating tumour cells. There are now techniques to isolate and study circulating tumour cells, which provides an opportunity to learn about the biological process of metastasis.
This pilot study aims to prove that sarcoma circulating tumour cells can be isolated, quantified and characterised from patient blood samples. By proving this, the potential for other studies to directly benefit patients will be developed. Circulating tumour cells may be a biomarker, in this case a biological indicator, of metastatic disease and identifying these cells could offer a novel method for recognising and selecting patients with a localised tumour who have a high risk of developing metastatic disease.
What this means for people affected by sarcoma
The study could mean potentially being able to use blood samples pre-scan to look for early signs of the sarcoma spreading, opening up a field of exciting research possibilities to bring improvements in patient care.