Liquid Biopsy: A novel early detection and surveillance tool.
According to the US National Cancer Institute (NCI), a liquid biopsy is “a test done on a sample of blood to look for cancer cells from a tumor that are circulating in the blood (CTCs) or for pieces of DNA from tumor cells that are in the blood (ctDNA).” Unlike tissue biopsies which require a needle, surgery or a combination, this procedure is relatively noninvasive as it only requires a simple blood test. Once the blood is drawn, it can be analyzed to determine if there are any cancer cells present at the molecular level. This can be an effective tool to: detect presence of residual disease post surgery, to evaluate response to treatments or for surveillance to monitor and detect earliest signs of recurrence. Natera manufacturers a ctDNA test called Signatera which is personalized to each patient’s set of tumor mutations. Thus, Natera requires a sample of tumor tissue for processing. Natera may also offer financial support in certain circumstances. Guardant Health offers a similar DNA-based blood test that is not specific to the patient’s tumor. Ask your oncologist if you are a candidate for either of these tests. Early detection can be the key to optimal treatment.