A study looking at cancer cells in the bloodstream of people with advanced bowel cancer

Cancer type:

Bowel (colorectal) cancer





This was a study to see how practical it would be to collect and test bowel cancer cells from the bloodstream. The researchers hoped that in future, this might help to predict how people will respond to chemotherapy.

Doctors usually treat bowel cancer that has spread (metastasised) with chemotherapy. This can help to control the cancer, and improve quality of life for many people with the disease. But this treatment does not always help. Doctors don’t want to put people through long courses of treatment and side effects if it won’t help them. But they can’t always tell in advance how well chemotherapy is going to work.  

We know from research that certain gene characteristics can help to show how people will respond to chemotherapy.  Where possible, doctors gather this information by taking and studying a sample of cancer tissue (a biopsy). But they would prefer to use a quick and simple blood test to get this information. The aim of this study was to see if it was practical to find bowel cancer cells in a patient’s bloodstream. And if researchers could test these cells for this information.   

Summary of results

The researchers had technical difficulties and the trial was never finished so there are no results available. 

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Patrick Johnson

Supported by

Belfast Health & Social Care Trust
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)

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Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 4380

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Alan took part in a clinical trial for bowel cancer patients

A picture of ALan

“I think it’s essential that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

Last reviewed:

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