For cancer patients and their loved ones, the disease represents a truly traumatic event in life, because the diagnosis comes with a lot of changes and different consequences. In the first place, the aim is to seek out a cure, but it is often the case that the first priority becomes preventing the spread of the disease. For this purpose, doctors usually have to find weak points of the disease in order to determine a targeted therapy. This is where the maintrac® process steps in. Through analyzing the patient’s blood sample, it can identify and characterize malignant tumor cells which are released from the tumor and infiltrate the bloodstream. These are the cells responsible for the formation of metastases. In order to find the appropriate treatment approach, the identification of therapy-relevant properties of cancer cells before treatment can be beneficial. Furthermore, with the results from the analysis on the number of these cells, the success of the treatment can be monitored.
The applications for maintrac® vary, depending on the specific situation of each patient. Therefore, the results for the cell count must be assessed and interpreted on a patient-by-patient basis.
The following pages should help explain how maintrac® can serve as a significant tool when making therapy decisions,
- in neoadjuvant therapy,
- in adjuvant therapy,
- in metastatic stages of the disease,
- during hormone therapy/ maintenance therapy and
- with the “watch-and-wait” approach (prostate)
by using the calculated number of circulating tumor cells. After consultation with treating physicians, steps can be taken either in carrying out further diagnostic tests or in direct intervention.
maintrac® – dynamics of the cell count
maintrac® does not assess a single value, but rather a variation in cell counts over time. This variation mirrors the changes in tumor activity and provides information on the effectiveness of therapy. In order to determine this progression in the cell count, blood samples are taken from the patient both before and over the course of therapy. The calculated values for circulating tumor cells are then set in relation to one another.
There are now universal reference values for the maintrac® method, as the total number of circulating tumor cells can vary greatly between any two patients, despite them having the same disease. Studies have demonstrated that small tumors can release a large number of circulating tumor cells into the bloodstream, and vice versa. For this reason, each patient and his or her medical history are individually assessed as part of the maintrac® process, with the course of the cell count over time serving as the basis for interpretation.
How this variation in cell count (increase or decrease) is to be assessed depends on each individual patient and their current situation. From this assessment, recommendations for further treatment can be made.