CHICAGO—Circulating endothelial cells (CECs) are elevated in patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and show promise as an early prognostic biomarker, Australian researchers reported here at the American Urological Association Annual Meeting.
“CECs appear to accurately reflect the tumor burden in our models so far,” said lead investigator Benjamin Namdarian, MD, of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia. “We have looked at two human cancer cell lines and [CEC levels are] highly predictive of tumor progression in both … models.”
Clinicians could use CEC measurements in conjunction with other clinical markers and with imaging and pathology data to map out a patient’s prognosis much more accurately, he said.
Dr. Namdarian pointed out that RCC responds well to anti-angiogenic therapies, adding that the use of CECs as a biomarker may be a simple and inexpensive way of measuring how well patients are responding to treatment.
Researchers at two institutions in Melbourne are evaluating a blood test that can measure CECs in RCC patients. “While this blood test is not yet ready for [use by] urologists, I hope that it potentially can help with the management of small renal masses,” Dr. Namdarian said.
“There are a range of treatments and management options available to us. I think [CECs] may enhance our ability to discern those masses that are going to be indolent disease and those that are going to be highly aggressive and really would require aggressive treatment.”
Blood assays for CECs have been shown to be a highly prognostic blood marker in both breast cancer and colorectal cancer, but the use of these tests remains far from routine, he noted.