Tissue biopsies are the standard in metastatic cancer care, but that could change thanks to a procedure called the liquid biopsy. These simple blood tests detect not only what tissue biopsies detect, but can also detect changes to a cancer much faster or when tissue biopsy is impossible.
“We can look in the blood and see if you’ve got a more aggressive disease,” said Dr. Cristofanilli.
The test can help doctors watch cancer as it changes and becomes resistant to therapy, and in turn, they can use this information to determine new, personalized treatments.
Liquid biopsies have “the ability to pair tests on circulating tumor cells with genomic tests,” explained Dr. Cristofanilli. “Together, they’re sort of a power duo. . . You finally have access to circulating cancer tissue on an ongoing basis, so you can watch the genomic changes as they occur in response to therapy or simply over the course of the cancer progression. In the past, clinicians chased the cancer, changing the therapies after the cancer regrows, which may be too late.”
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