A study conducted by a team of Indian researchers has found that oral cancer patients having a lesser number of circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in blood live longer than patients with a greater number of such cells.
The four-year-long study, among the largest clinical trials in head and neck cancers in which 500 patients were analysed, was led by Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi of Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, Dr Jayant Khandare and a team of Pune-based Actorius OncoDiscover Technology.
“Altogether 152 oral cancer patients were analysed and 1.5 ml blood per patient was monitored for the presence of CTCs,” Khandare said.
“The study showed that patients with over 20 CTCs per 1.5 ml blood are more likely to have an advanced-stage disease and nodal metastasis (cancer cells breaking away from where they first formed), while patients with less than 12 CTCs per 1.5 ml blood survive for a longer period,” he said.
“The study was published in the international peer-reviewed Journal Triple OOO recently,” he added.
“As per the national cancer registry, there are about 14 lakh cancer patients in India and about nine per cent of these (1.2 lakh) are in Maharashtra,” Khandare said.
“Cancer cases and deaths in Maharashtra have increased by 11,306 and 5,727, respectively in the last three years, a collective increase of around eight per cent,” he added.
“The OncoDiscover test, funded by the government through Biotech Ignition Grant and Small Business Industry Research Initiative of the Department of Biotechnology, is the sole CTC test approved by Drugs Controller General of India as per the Medical Device Rules 2017,” he said.
The test is used to detect CTCs for diagnosis of cancers like those of head and neck, breast, lung, colon and rectal, Khandare said. “Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope has evinced an interest in our work and will be visiting our Pune facility soon," he added.