According to French researchers, prevalence of cancer in children can be predicted by identifying certain cell in circulating blood.
The researchers measured levels of circulating endothelial cells and endothelial progenitor cells in 23 children with localized cancer, 22 children with metastatic cancer and 20 healthy children.
Not only were these cells found in higher levels in [cancer] patients compared to healthy volunteers, but endothelial progenitor cells were found in strikingly higher amounts in patients with metastatic disease, said Francoise Farace, director of the department of biology of circulating cells at the Gustave Roussy Cancer Institute.
The results were surprising which showed children with metastatic cancer had much higher levels of these cells than healthy children.
This implies that these endothelial cells most likely play a role in the development of cancer in children, Farace said. We also observed a large range of cell levels in patients with various tumor types. In some cases, very high levels were observed, which means their role may be very important.
More investigation is needed to confirm whether these cells play a role in metastasis. Researchers suggested testing levels of the cells could improve early detection of metastatic cancer, and the cells could be targeted by new drugs to prevent the spread of cancer.