Simple test to predict rare cancers' likely spread
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IMAGE: Circulating tumor cell cluster found in the blood of a head and neck cancer patient. view more 

Credit: Credit: QUT, Arutha Kulasinghe

New QUT research has shed fresh light on how head and neck cancer spreads to other organs and researchers are developing a simple blood test to tell doctors which patients are at risk of spread long before conventional imaging can.

The research team, headed by Associate Professor Chamindie Punyadeera, presented their findings at the international Saliva and Liquid Biopsy Symposium 2018 (July 5 and 6) at QUT.

Doctors, cancer researchers and medical industry representatives from around the world attended the symposium to share their latest findings and technology in relation to a ‘liquid biopsy’ – the use of saliva or blood for the non-invasive diagnosis of disease.

Professor Punyadeera, from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, said she and her team had identified clusters of circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in blood samples from 15 out of 60 patients recently diagnosed with stage IV locally advanced head and neck cancer which had not spread to other organs.

Professor Punyadeera and her team are working with Professor Ian Papautsky, a Chicago-based biomedical engineer, who has developed a

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