We have evaluated the usefulness of the tumor colony assay in predicting chemotherapeutic drug response in our cancer patients population. We found that a wide variety of human tumors will produce clonal growth in this in vitro assay. Low growth rates in many of the common human tumors, however, severely restrict the utility of this assay in a large number of cancer patients. A retrospective analysis using the assay to predict anticancer drug response revealed a true-positive predictive rate of 63% and a true-negative predictive rate of 96%. We conclude that if growth stimulants can be developed to enhance clonal growth without altering the predictability of the assay, the tumor colony assay could prove to be extremely useful in selecting appropriate chemotherapy for individual cancer patients.
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