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    Circulating Tumour Cells (CTC) Trial

    NIIM is conducting a research trial on Determining Circulating Tumour Cells (CTC) in cancer patients

    What Are Circultating Tumour Cells (CTC)?

    Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs) are cancer cells that have shed into the blood from a primary tumor and circulate in the bloodstream. CTCs thus constitute seeds for subsequent growth of additional tumors (metastasis) in vital distant organs. An increase in CTCs in a patient’s bloodstream is associated with cancer progression, while a decrease in CTCs is associated with cancer containment or remission.

    Circulating Tumour Cell (CTC) analysis may help with the early assessment of the effectiveness of the treatment for the patient.

    CTC Methodology

    At NIIM we use the ISET (Isolated by Size the Epithelial Tumour cells) methodology, developed and validated by Rarecells in France ( The validated and patented ISET system works by isolation of any tumour cells in the blood by size.

    What Is Involved In The Trial?

    • You need to provide 10 ml of blood for CTC analysis within one week of starting the recommended therapy, and
    • At about 3 months after commencement of the treatment, 3-4 weeks after you received the final treatment of the treatment cycle.
    • To request a CTC Test, your doctor can download the NIIM CTC Test Request Form here.
    • To make an appointment for blood collection, contact the NIIM clinic at 9804 0646 and present with your CTC Test Request Form at the NIIM reception desk.

    You Can Participate In The Trial, If

    • CTC screening/ early detection: You have a higher risk of malignancy, e.g. family history.
    • CTC count: You have been diagnosed with cancer.
    • CTC count and treatment effectiveness: You are receiving medical treatment for cancer including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, intravenous Vitamin C therapy, and/or hyperthermia.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    FACT 1: ISET-CTC tests can detect Circulating Tumour Cells (CTC) in all cancer types, including solid tumours and blood type cancers.

    FACT 2: ISET-CTC can detect Circulating Tumour Cells (CTC) independent of the presence of Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule (EpCAM) markers. 

    • Some tumour cells do not have EpCAM markers, e.g. blood type tumours. 
    • Tumour cells consistently undergo change and may lose EpCAM markers over time.

    FACT 3: ISET-CTC testing can distinguish between malignant Circulating Tumour Cells (CTC) and benign Circulating Epithelial Cells (CEC).

    FACT 4: ISET-CTC (Isolation of Epithelial Tumour Cells by Size) testing by microfiltration can detect cancer cells of all sizes. Cancer cells usually are larger than 8 microns (the ISET filter hole size), including solid tumour cells of 11.7-23.8 microns, small-cell type cancers (e.g. small cell lung carcinoma of 7.2-10 microns) and blood type cancers (e.g. leukemia cells of 8.9-15.3 microns).

    1) Paterlini–Brechot P. Circulating Tumour Cells: Who is the Killer? Cancer Microenviron 2014;7,161-176.
    2) Vona G et al. Isolation by size of epithelial tumor cells : a new method for the immunomorphological and molecular characterization of circulatingtumor cells. Am J Pathol 2000;156(1):57-63.
    3) Harouaka RA et al. Circulating Tumour Cell enrichment based on physical properties. J Lab Autom 2013;18(6),1-21.

    Privacy And Confidentiality

    Your personal data will be known only to the study team, and with your consent, your treating doctor. All data collected will be de-identified before analysis and stored securely in locked files at the NIIM clinic. No personal data will be divulged in publication.


    If you have questions about taking part in this trial on Circulating Tumour Cells (CTC) analysis, you can contact the NIIM Research Director Dr Karin Ried on:
    P (03) 9912 9545 E

    CTC Test Request Forms

    Please be aware there are separate Victorian and Interstate request forms.

    The cost of CTC test is $850, plus an additional shipping fee of $100 for interstate kits.

    Victoria Patients Form - Download Victorian CTC Test request form here

    Interstate Patients Form - Download Interstate (Non-Victorian) CTC Test request form here

    CTC Brochure

    Download the NIIM CTC Brochure