What you need to know about Liquid Biopsy
Have you heard about liquid biopsies yet? They are a new tool on the cancer care scene with the potential to change the way cancers are screened, diagnosed and treated.
Why are we excited? Research continues, but there is hope that liquid biopsies will be able to better monitor genetic changes in tumours and make sure women with metastatic breast cancer have the personalized treatment they need more quickly.
To learn more, we connected with Dr. Anthony M. Magliocco.
Let’s start at the beginning, what is liquid biopsy?
Liquid biopsy is a safe, convenient and effective blood test that can tell a patient and her doctor if there is evidence of cancer. The testing is now very sophisticated in that cancer cells can be isolated from the blood sample and examined to determine what cancer markers are present. This can allow us to better select treatment and also monitor the response to treatment.
What does liquid biopsy offer patients that a traditional biopsy or other diagnostics do not?
The liquid biopsy offers an easy way to evaluate the current status of cancer in a patient. It can determine if the cancer has been completely removed by surgery and therapy or if it has returned.
It can also uncover if the cancer has evolved or changed to need a different treatment. For example, a recent study showed that some HER2-negative cancers can shift to HER2-positive and this can be detected with the liquid biopsy blood test. Where the shift occurred, women were then treated with anti-HER2 treatments leading to improved survival outcomes. It can also detect if a treatment is failing to help reduce toxicity from ineffective treatments
There are many treatment options available so having this opportunity for “real-time” evaluation of cancer in the patient can open new treatment opportunities without the pain and discomfort of a surgical biopsy.
What do you think the potential of liquid biopsy is in cancer care?
In the future, liquid biopsy might be able to identify women (and men) who need no further treatment (for example, they are cured by surgery and radiotherapy). This is measuring minimal residual disease. Currently, treatments tend to over treat, as we don’t really know who is at risk of recurrence.
I believe liquid biopsy will transform cancer care – not only in breast cancer, but also lung, prostate, colon and others too – with more effective and sensitive screening procedures, speed diagnosis and allow better treatment selection and monitoring.
To find out if liquid biopsy could be a part of your cancer care, speak to your healthcare team.
Dr. Anthony Magliocco is an internationally recognized cancer expert with over 30 years experience in creating and deploying advanced diagnostics to help cancer patients. Trained in Canada and the United States, he has worked tirelessly on the goal of improving cancer patients access to quality diagnostics. He is a Professor of Pathology and Oncology at the University of South Florida and President and CEO of Protean BioDiagnostics. email@example.com