International health insurance customers might be interested to learn that the number of lung cancer cells circulating in a person's blood could be used to determine how aggressive their cancer is.
Published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the study suggested that the number could be used to predict which course of treatment would be best for the individual.
Dr Fiona Blackhall, joint author and lung cancer clinician, commented: "Our research shows a new way to monitor how a patient's lung cancer is responding to treatment and determine how aggressive it is.
"We now need to test our findings in more patients but, if our results are confirmed, there is now the potential to tailor treatments to individual patients and find new ways to treat the disease."
The team counted circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in the blood samples of 101 non small cell lung cancer patients both before and after one cycle of chemotherapy.
A significantly worse survival rate was found in those with CTCs of five or more.