Cancer treatment of children could be improved by the discovery of circulating blood cells that could indicate the likelihood that the cancer will spread.
A study, which is to be published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, has found that endothelial cells have a significant role in the process of metastatic disease in young cancer patients.
If the research is confirmed, it is likely it could lead to early paediatric cancer treatment for those at risk of their cancer spreading.
Dr Francoise Farace, director of the department of biology of circulating cells in the translational research laboratory, Institut Gustave Roussy, France, commented: "This is the first study to measure circulating endothelial cells and endothelial progenitor cells in children with cancer, which can provide insight as to the biology of their tumour vessels.
"Not only were these cells found in higher levels in patients compared to healthy volunteers, but endothelial progenitor cells were found in strikingly higher amounts in patients with metastatic disease."
Metastasis results in the spread of a disease from one organ to another, or an unconnected part of the same organ.