New Liquid Biopsies Can Detect And Monitor Cancer Without Invasive Surgery

May 25, 2015 By Archit Tripathi
Each year, millions of people worldwide are affected by cancer - either directly or simply through the devastating news that one of their loved ones has been diagnosed with it. Although medical research has come a very long way, there are still no fool-proof cures for this global killer. One of the biggest obstacles is that for many patients, it's already too late by the time they receive a definitive diagnosis. Even when being treated, it can take several weeks for cellular debris (from treating tumor sites) to clear up enough to show progress on conventional scans.

Scientists have now discovered that cancerous tumors release circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) into the bloodstream. By taking "liquid biopsies" in the form of blood samples, they can monitor ctDNA levels to diagnose patients with cancer before they ever present symptoms. Monitoring ctDNA is also very useful to track treatment progress as it provides a virtually real-time account of changes to the tumor.
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