Can a simple blood test identify cancer and guided treatments?
A New York Times story examining these so-called ‘liquid biopsies’ features a Jefferson patient being treated for metastatic breast cancer and her oncologist Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, director of the Jefferson Breast Care Center.
For the patient, Lynn Lewis, several liquid biopsies were employed to help guide her treatment.
The Times article explains:
… a different liquid biopsy found that at least some of Ms. Lewis’s cancer cells had abundant amounts of the protein Her2, which drives tumor growth. That had not been seen on her tissue biopsies, perhaps because such biopsies sample only a tiny bit of what is typically a heterogeneous tumor.
As a result, Ms. Lewis has just started on Herceptin and Tykerb, two drugs for Her2-positive cancers.
“You will have a chance to identify a treatment sometimes and sometimes not,” said Dr. Massimo Cristofanilli, director of the breast care center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, who is treating Ms. Lewis and is a leading expert on liquid biopsies. Still, he said, “you are certainly much more advanced than going blindly.”
You can read the full article here.
Dr. Cristofanilli recently published an invited commentary in the medical journal The Lancet Oncology about the use of circulating tumor cells to guide treatment of cancer patients including those like Lynn Lewis with metastatic breast cancer.