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Circulating Endothelial Cells May Predict Chemo Outcome

Higher CEC levels in breast cancer patients treated with antiangiogenic therapy mark better survival

MONDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- The kinetics and viability of circulating endothelial cells may be good predictors of clinical response in patients receiving antiangiogenic metronomic chemotherapy for breast cancer, according to a report in the July 15 issue of Blood.

Francesco Bertolini, M.D., from the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy, and colleagues measured the correlation between circulating endothelial cell (CEC) kinetics and clinical outcome in a phase 3 study of patients receiving antiangiogenic metronomic chemotherapy for advanced-stage breast cancer.

Patients who had lower levels of CECs responded more poorly to chemotherapy than those who had higher levels. The difference was most likely due to higher levels of apoptotic cells from the tumor vasculature, according to the report. CEC values of greater than 11 per microliter were associated with longer progression-free survival and improved overall survival in multivariate analyses.

"Our data indicate that CEC count and viability are very promising tools to select patients with cancer who might benefit from the new generation of antiangiogenic therapies that are entering the clinical arena," the authors write. "Considering the highly promiscuous phenotype of CECs and of their progenitor subpopulation, and that the currently available studies were carried out with four-color flow cytometry, the recent availability of six-color flow cytometry might represent a major step forward in this area."

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