A study looking at cancer cells in blood samples from women with breast cancer

Cancer type:

Breast cancer





This study is looking for breast cancer cells in the bloodstream of women with breast cancer. Cancer Research UK supports this trial.


More about this trial

Researchers know that some women with breast cancer have cancer cells circulating in their blood. They call these circulating tumour cells (CTCs). In this study researchers want to look at the best way to find CTCs and study them.

Looking at circulating tumour cells in the blood will help researchers learn more about why treatment works better in some women than others and about how cancer spreads.

The aims of this study are to find out

  • If cancer cells in the blood can be easily detected and counted
  • More about breast cancer, to help improve treatment in the future
  • More about how breast cancer spreads

You will not have any direct benefit from taking part in this study, and it is unlikely to change your treatment plan in any way. But the results of the study will be used to help women in the future.

Who can enter

You may be able to enter this study if you are a woman aged between 18 and 99, both with or without breast cancer.

You cannot enter this trial if you have any medical condition that would make it unsafe for you to take part in this study.

Trial design

This trial will recruit 1600 women. Everybody taking part may have a number of blood tests a year.

The study will include a small group of women who do not have breast cancer. This group is called the control group.

A small number of women with advanced breast cancer may develop an accumulation of fluid in either the lung (pleural effusion Open a glossary item) or tummy (ascites Open a glossary item). If this is drained then the researchers will ask for a sample of the fluid.

Women who have a mastectomy may develop a small accumulation of fluid where the breast was removed. The researchers would like a sample of the fluid.

 If you do not want to give these fluid samples for this study, you don’t have to. You can still take part in the study.

Hospital visits

There are no extra hospital visits as blood tests will be taken when you see the doctor as part of your routine care.

Side effects

As there is no treatment as part of this trial, there are no side effects. You may have a small bruise where you had your blood test.



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 Charles Coombes

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Imperial College London

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


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

Deborah wanted to help other breast cancer patients in the future

A picture of Deborah

“Deborah agreed to take part in a trial as she was keen to help other cancer patients in the future. "If taking part in a trial means others might be helped then I’m very happy with that."

Last reviewed:

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