Liquid Biopsy May Help Detect Cancer

BEACON TRANSCRIPTLiquid biopsy may help detect cancer, according to a new study. This groundbreaking discovery might put an end to the painful biopsies that cancer patients need go through to diagnose the disease. Some researchers believe that blood samples can be just as accurate as the invasive tissue biopsies.

"liquid biopsy"

With a simple blood sample, doctors may detect and monitor changes in cancer without having to resort to surgical tumor biopsy.

This new method of testing for cancer was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting. Researchers have looked at the results of almost 15,000 liquid biopsies before concluding that this procedure can become an alternative to the conventional tumor biopsies. The team conducting the study has found that a particular mutation in the blood of people with cancer was also found in the tumor more than 94 percent of the time.

These findings show that this DNA analysis can be highly informative. More so, because genetic changes in the DNA occur before the growth of the tumor can be seen in a scan. This means that through liquid biopsy, doctors can adjust the patient’s treatment much sooner.

According to the data presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, the Guardant360 sequencing test was used to analyze somatic mutations in patients that had 50 different tumor types. These results were then compared with the results of genetic testing on tumor tissue and data from The Cancer Genome Atlas.

The findings showed that the results were highly concordant. The team of researchers conducting the study has analyzed blood samples from 15,191 cancer patients. Up to 17,628 blood samples were tested for cancer, and most results were then compared with The Cancer Genome Atlas, while 398 samples were compared with the results of genetic testing on tumor tissue.

Scientists revealed that this method of test would be especially useful for patients with lung cancer. About 63 percent of the 362 lung cancer cases had insufficient tissue for testing. This adds yet more benefits to the liquid biopsy. Oncologists also note that tissue biopsies can be highly difficult to perform on patients with cancer spread to the brain or the bone.

However, experts do state that tissue analysis is still the best option, but the quantity and quality of tissue are often inadequate. Because of this, liquid biopsy would be highly useful in monitoring cancer patients during the course of the disease.