• A cancer tumour releases cells known as circulating epithelial tumour cells (CETC or CTC) into the blood stream.
  • A tumour the size of one millimetre can emit up to 100,000 cancer cells per day into the blood stream.
  • The circulating tumour cells are also involved in the spreading of cancer and a high level suggests that the tumour is more active.
  • A drop in cancer cells means the treatment is working.
  • Circulating tumour cell test quantifies the level of these circulating tumour cells in the blood and can be used to monitor the effectiveness of cancer treatment. 
  • The test can also be used as an early detection test.

Adjuvant chemotherapy

Adjuvant chemotherapy is given in an attempt to kill any tumour cells remaining in the body after surgical resection of a malignant tumou

  • Patients who present with increasing Circulating tumour cell numbers when undergoing treatment have a higher risk of recurrence.
  • Patients, whose circulating CECirculating tumour cellTC in the blood are completely eliminated or substantially reduced, rarely suffer a relapse.

It is important to establish a base line level before treatment and compare the level at the completion of treatment in order to determine whether the treatment has resulted in a reduction of cancer cells.


Tumour cells can change during treatment and can regrow after the completion of treatment. It is therefore highly advisable, to continue monitoring the epithelial tumour cells circulating in the blood, which in turn will help determine the long-term success of the treatment.

It is also possible to use an extended version of the test to establish which anticancer therapy is most likely to work for the particular patient. Each patient is unique, each tumour distinct. The Maintrac chemosensitivity test can determine which therapeutic agent has the highest probability of being effective.


Maintrac CETC

The Maintrac CETC test is performed in Germany. A blood sample will be collected locally and sent by courier to Germany. The results are usually ready within two weeks. Blood samples should be collected before the next cycle of chemotherapy or two weeks after chemotherapy. The test is provided by Genostics in Australia.

  • CETC Count Maintrac CETC $720.


RGCC is a specialist medical genetics company, established in 2004 with headquarters in Switzerland. The test is provided by Nutripath in Australia.

  • Oncocount CTC $950
  • Oncotrace CTC and immunophenotype $1200