RGCC testing… another option to help me out?

It’s Monday already and the weekend has been fun! Saturday started with an early morning drive to the beautiful countryside and there we had over two hours of learning archery on a private estate. The views were breathtaking and the lesson was great. Anyone that knows me may be surprised by this as I don’t automatically like outdoor pursuits! Well not when they are surprised on me but as this was planned I didn’t overreact and hate every minute. I wouldn’t say I was a natural but I wasn’t awful either. I am so surprised as to how achy the whole of my arms and shoulders are right now! To top it the weather was outstanding. Cold and fresh but bright sunshine. I had plenty of vitamin D, lots of fresh air and lots of feel good hormones. Plus it was lovely doing something with my man. I know we do everything together but he really enjoyed himself and that makes me feel great too.

From there we drove a few hours down to the coast and after a short stress time were out having dinner with our good friend. I devoured plenty of vegetarian Thai food and had lots of soft drinks… No alcohol for any of us. It was refreshing and surprisingly easy!

Sunday we were recommended to go to an amazing grocer in Brighton known as Taj. There you will find a whole range of fresh fruit and vegetables from all over the world. We bought some items we had no idea what they were and what to do with them. After some research we found we had bought a taro root thanks to one of my followers from India who told me. We are having a yummy taro root and coconut milk curry tonight with fresh spinach.

I was amazed at this independent grocer that stocked such a huge world wide range and in each department there were also many organic, gluten free and vegan options. It was brilliant. We could have spent hundreds of pounds.

Sunday was a dreary day so we decided that we should head home and start cooking. Pete was chomping at the bit to get in the kitchen and start creating. We made parsnip and butternut squash, taro root curry and turmeric juice. In Taj I purchased a bottle of turmeric juice and fresh turmeric root. When I finished the bottle of juice we decided to replicate it and make our own using the same ingredients. I now have my very own turmeric root juice waiting to be drunk. As you know turmeric has the active extract Curcumin in it which is hugely anti inflammatory and believed to be anti carcinogenic. In fact everything we ate yesterday was loaded with turmeric.

So here I am back to Monday. I am really happy and grateful and have so much to look forward to. I have finally received a date for my next scan which is now right at the end of this month. I still feel really well despite having taken a high dose of vinorelbine and I hope that continues.

I have a few things in the pipeline that I am planning and my new friend is helping me out with sharing information. I am thinking about having an RGCC test. This is a test for circulating tumour cells and is used for predicting canSer as well helping people like me with metastasised canSer to decide what treatments may help such as chemosensitivity as well as herbal and complimentary medicines.

Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are a subpopulation of tumour cells derived from the primary cancer site which have breached the surrounding cell matrix and entered the blood stream. Their detection can:

1. Aid in the early diagnosis of a malignancy

2. Provide information about risk of disease progression and/or likelihood of relapse after treatment

3. Provide information about best treatment options (chemosensitivity testing)

From the time a malignant tumour reaches 2mm in diameter, it needs its own blood supply to ensure that enough oxygen and nutrients reaches the cells to enable their continued growth. From this point, it becomes possible for malignant cells to enter the bloodstream. Many will be destroyed by the body’s immune system, but the most resilient cells will persist. These are the ‘circulating tumour cells’. They have ‘metastatic potential’ as they can settle and grow in distant organs, which is the basis of ‘metastatic spread’. These cells also have ‘stem-cell like properties’ because they can both generate new cells, and reproduce themselves.

The presence of CTCs doesn’t automatically mean there is metastatic spread, but it indicates that this potential exists. The ‘micro-environment’ in the body, plus the individual’s immune system, as well as a range of other factors seems to determine whether these cells activate and generate metastatic disease, or remain quiescent. They can remain quiescent for years. When a cancer relapses many years after the primary tumour was diagnosed and treated, it is because some cancer cells were left behind with the potential to re-activate and generate new disease.

Cell counts as low as 1 cell per ml are detectable. For a tumour to be visible on a scan, between 109 – 1012 cells must be present.

As CTCs are essentially the ‘engine’ of the cancer, in terms of its potential to metastasize and grow, they are increasingly of interest to researchers and clinicians. The hope is that they will become the target for future treatments.

A growing number of clinical trials have been conducted, in which CTC counts are made and correlated with the clinical outcome of the patients involved. There is therefore some guidance about what each specific cell count means, but there are no formal reference ranges yet due to the lack of formal clinical validation of these tests. It is clear, however, that the number of CTCs detected in a standardised blood sample does provide information about prognosis.

CTCs can also be tested to see which treatments they are sensitive to. This is chemosensitivity testing, and it forms the basis of personalised cancer therapy.

What does RGCC detect?

1. Individuals with a current diagnosis of cancer who are interested in undertaking a CTC assay and/or chemosensitivity testing for additional information about their disease and treatment options can do so under the care of their own Oncologist (if he/she is happy to facilitate the tests). Alternatively they can consult a doctor known to RGCC who can organise the tests, interpret the test results and facilitate treatments.

2. Individuals without a current diagnosis of cancer, but with a higher risk of developing cancer e.g. on account of their family history, or on account of a pre-malignant condition, may also be interested in undertaking a CTC assay. The purpose of this screening test would be to add information to their standard screening options, in order that the presence of a malignancy can be diagnosed as early as possible.

CTC assays are not yet routinely used for the early detection of cancers, and standard methods of diagnosis exist which are usually based on histology e.g. via tissue biopsy. As the latter requires a detectable tumour (at least 0.5cm diameter on a scan) it is possible that there can be a delay before a formal diagnosis can be made, and therefore before treatment is initiated. However, the knowledge that CTCs are present (and immunophenotyping can also help identify the origin of the cells) may allow proactive screening programmes to be implemented, as well as lifestyle changes which will not only expedite early detection of the malignancy but may also improve outcome.

I suppose the question is why didn’t I have this sooner? Well as you know it’s a mine field out there and it can become all so overwhelming. At first when I heard of this testing I would have had to send off my bloods to Greece but as I have discovered through word of mouth it is possible to do it here. As with everything it costs and what with everything else I do I have to bide my time and when it feels right do it then. I don’t always want to seem like I am looking for the next thing and be too keen to book things because I want to believe that I can be cured and for all I know that right now things are working for me maybe. One has to live as well as plan for the future and be one step ahead of canSer but there is a fine line between one step ahead and being pessimistic.

I think the time is right for me now if it possible despite me having chemotherapy currently. Let’s get the ball rolling. Some people may think it’s never ending… Well it is but I don’t ever feel exasperated by it because if it wasn’t this it would be something else.