Working to stop the spread of cancer


The five-year survival rate for someone with stage one colon cancer is 92 percent. But the five-year survival rate for someone with stage four is just 12 percent.

Scientists are now looking at whether a tube of blood holds the key to stopping the spread of cancer.

Beth McCaw-McKinney did everything right. 

Her sister Cathy McCaw-Engelman says, “She ate healthy. She exercised. She always did her breast cancer examinations, pap smears. all that was on time.” 

But then at age 53 she had her first colonoscopy.

McCaw-Engelman says, “They found a grapefruit-sized tumor in her colon. It was already in her lymph nodes and basically had spread.” 

Doctors gave Beth three months to live. she lived three years. Professor Annette Khaled and her team study metastatic cancer cells and are looking to help people like Beth.

Thanks to a donation from Beth’s family, they now have a new weapon in their fight against cancer: the Cellsearch system.  

Ana Martini at the UCF College of Medicine says, “Cellsearch is a system that uses blood from cancer patients and we’re able to detect circulating tumor cells.” 

These are cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body. The system allows them to separate, analyze and count the number of these cells.

It can detect as few as two to three cancer cells in a teaspoon of blood. with that information they can try to.

Annette Khaled at the UCF College of Medicine continues saying, “Understand what are the steps and what are the changes that cells undergo, cancer cells undergo, from the tumor to become a circulating tumor cell. How we can develop therapies to inhibit or prevent these circulating tumor cells.”

According to Khaled, doctors can test the number of circulating tumor cells to determine how far a person’s cancer has advanced with the hope to determine if a particular therapy is working.

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