Liquid biopsy is a hot topic in oncology today, as it opens up possibility, access, and understanding into the world and makeup of cancer cells. For MyOncoPath, liquid blood biopsies are another genetic test to help understand individual cancers and move into precision medicine and away from the one-size fits all approach to treatment plans.
A liquid biopsy is a blood test to look for cancer DNA circulating in a patient’s bloodstream. The blood biopsy can detect epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutations from the tumor DNA that is shed into the bloodstream. Blood samples can be spun down to plasma to be analyzed for tumor DNA followed by genomic sequencing. As with tumor profiling, liquid biopsies can unveil mutations changing the cancer’s sensitivity or resistance to certain therapies.
Liquid biopsies have been used for early cancer detection (at this time the technology is not 100% but researchers are hoping to develop liquid blood biopsies into a early cancer screening test). For existing patients it can assist in treatment planning, determining how well a treatment is working, gauging resistance or if a relapse has occurred. Regular liquid biopsies can create an enhanced understanding of a specific cancer, its genetic makeup, molecular changes, and response to treatment.
With the results of a liquid biopsy doctors can potentially select an optimal treatment plan for a specific patient based on the biomarkers found in their cancer’s cells. Liquid biopsies are a non-invasive alternative to surgical biopsies. It eliminates many of the challenges of tissue or tumor biopsies for patients, such as cost, pain, access, and risk.
Dr. Nikhil Wagle, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, hopes ultimately to use blood biopsies to guide how he treats patients… Say a biopsy finds that the amount of tumor DNA in the patient’s blood is rising again. “That tells me, ‘Oh, no, the tumor is growing again,’ ” Wagle said. “Maybe then I look at what the composition of that tumor DNA is again, and it tells me either what different regimen to use or what additional drugs to add.”
Would you prefer your health care team treat you based on the average response to your general cancer type? Or to have a tailored treatment plan based on the genetic biomarkers of your cancer and its response to therapies?
At this time liquid biopsies are not only less invasive, faster and less expensive, they are thought to be a significant stride forward in the way we understand and treat cancer. Our board certified genetic counselors can assist with identifying if a liquid biopsy is appropriate for the patient, we can recommend a preferred liquid biopsy, review the results and write a summary for your health care provider. Contact us for more details about liquid biopsy options available – call 1.888.335.8006 or 1.925.266.5777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.