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Article
August 4, 1962

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CANCER CELLS IN THE BLOOD

JAMA. 1962;181(5):434. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050310074013

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Abstract

It has come to our attention that some groups studying the blood of cancer patients for cancer cells are using the presence of cancer cells in the peripheral blood as a serious prognostic sign, even to the point of calling these patients inoperable. This editorial is written to warn against premature interpretation of this type. Although we know that the vascular spread of cancer cells is the mechanism which kills most patients with cancer, we are also convinced that most of these cells circulating in the blood stream do not survive. True enough, it is obvious that ultimately many of these cells survive and form metastases which result in the death of the patient. Lymphatic spread of cancer is of much less importance in the lethal outcome. It is assumed that this question of survival or death of the cell is related to the resistance of the patient; as the

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