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What is a liquid biopsy?

13 August 2018 11:19

Liquid biopsy includes study material associated with cancer (eg, DNA) from a blood sample. At this time, the liquid biopsy can not replace a biopsy of the tumor. But researchers are exploring the benefits and best use of liquid biopsies. They demonstrate the prospect guide the individual approach to the fight against cancer. Ultimately, the liquid biopsy can also help service physicians to identify some forms of cancer.

Cancer is characterized by changes in cells, including mutations and other genetic changes that lead to the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably. Identification of the specific changes associated with human cancer, may help physicians determine the best services for the treatment of this man.

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The diagnosis and characterization of cancer require sampling of tissue through biopsy of the tumor. This involves taking a sample of tissue or cancerous cells through the invasive procedure and investigation of the sample in the laboratory. Tumor biopsies provide a wealth of information for scientists, which can be used in the development of cancer treatment plan.

But biopsies are limited. Firstly, the swelling varies with time as it grows, the spread (metastasize) and subjected to anti-cancer drugs. This means that the tumor biopsies obtained at the first diagnosis of the disease, may not reflect the current state of cancer. Secondly, a repeat biopsy to obtain updated information on cancer is invasive and associated with potential complications, including pain, infection, and bleeding. Third, cancer cells, which are distributed in different areas of the body, may differ slightly from cancer at the site of its origin. As a result, the tumor biopsy from one part of the body is unlikely to be adequately represent the cancer throughout the body.

Passage of many biopsy procedures impractical and can be difficult for patients. Liquid biopsy may offer an alternative for cancer monitoring over time, which is less expensive and less invasive and, therefore, easier to repeat than tumor biopsies. In addition, the genetic material of the foci of the disease is released into the bloodstream, so the blood sampling can provide real, representative look at developing the cancer throughout the body.

Information received from the liquid biopsy, to help physicians choose the best treatment for the patient at the moment in the course of metastatic disease. monitoring of blood may also indicate the need for a transition to a different mode of treatment before the changes appear on the imaging exam. In the conditions of the early stages of cancer, periodically checking the blood on the signals of cancer after potentially curative therapy, it is possible to identify patients who are at risk of relapse. Some studies indicate that liquid biopsy can detect when cancer comes back long before the tumor. This can lead to earlier intervention and improved survival rates.

With continued research and technological improvements liquid biopsy may eventually become a tool for cancer screening. That early detection will improve outcomes associated with cancer is expected. This is especially important for those cancers is currently no effective methods for screening and prevention.

Although liquid biopsy is still being investigated, the potential that they offer to provide a new method for monitoring the presence of cancer, monitor cancer treatment response and monitor the recurrence of cancer with a blood test, can be a significant step forward in the treatment of cancer.

Source: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-08-mayo-clinic-qa-liquid-biopsy.html

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